By Jessica Caver, Concierge Banker
When I became an Avenue Banker I was excited to have the opportunity to be out in the community, along with trying my skills in a business development role.
With this new opportunity came challenges, in particular the art of networking. I soon found myself at a business luncheon, took a deep breath and walked in feeling confident. I spotted a familiar face, struck up a conversation and mentioned that it was my first time attending this particular meeting. As I made my way through the room, I spoke to a few more people and thought, “I’ll just find a seat at any table.” I was wrong. To my surprise, all the seats were filled or reserved.
Each time I asked to join a table I was told, “This seat is taken”. Then, I was the lone person standing in a room of 400 seated professionals. It was like a game of musical chairs, and I was the one left standing! I felt like all eyes were on me and it took everything in me to stay for the luncheon. I ended up sitting at a table for ten, alone…not a great introduction to this thing called “networking”.
I told my dad this story shortly afterward, and he gave me some advice; he said “always know where your seat is!” He praised me and said “you stayed, you faced the uncomfortable.” My dad was right. Although the experience was jolting, I learned a great lesson and surprised myself by sticking it out.
I share this story to encourage others who may be hesitant about networking. It’s not always easy, but the reward is in the relationships you forge. Case in point, shortly after what I now jokingly call “the lonely luncheon,” I was invited to attend a business mixer. As I perused the crowd, I heard someone say, “Hey Jessica!” I turned around to find someone greeting me with open arms!
I continued to attend various events around town and it wasn’t long before I knew a few people whenever I entered a room. I no longer felt like that kid searching for a seat at the lunch table.
Networking is now something I actually look forward to. While the key to each person’s success may be different, I found mine in my ability to stay confident . . . even in those situations where I may not know exactly where my seat is.
Posted by Lisa Meiers on 01/03 at 08:52 AM