Maggie was one of two directors of a small business. The directors knew that business networking was an important part of their strategy for growing the business, but only Andy actually did any.
They both recognised that Maggie should also network with other businesses.
It quickly became apparent that Maggie was highly resistant to the idea. Not that she didn’t agree she should do it. And not that she didn’t want to do it. But the idea of walking into a room full of people she didn’t know just filled her with severe trepidation.
So Maggie and I had a conversation about what her reservations were, and how realistic they really were.
After quite a long chat, I decided to suggest she go to a particular event in a week or so which I knew would be laid back to the point of nonexistence. It would be the least stressful business networking event you could imagine.
Because she is an honourable woman I knew that, if she said she would go, she would and I made sure she had confirmed that she would before I left.
Afterwards, I had a word with the organiser of the networking event. I asked him to do as much as he could to make Maggie’s experience as stress free as possible and he promised to look out for her and to consciously introduce her to a few people.
I also discovered that a business colleague intended to go to the event and asked her to look after Maggie. I knew my colleague would make an effort to ensure Maggie met some people.
I was unable to go to the event myself.
Later, I had some feedback from my co-conspirators who reported that Maggie had attended and had been very nervous. But she stayed the course.
And, of course, once she had done it once she knew she could do it again.
Some months later, I had a call from Maggie. She reported she’d joined a business networking group, attended regularly and was beginning to help organise it. She’d been to a business fair at which there was a speed networking event (the sort of event which is designed to create maximum stress for the minimum return). She enthusiastically told me she had made a special point of going to it to find out what it was like.
The moral is that sometimes it is best to be, as the witches advised Macbeth, “bloody, bold and resolute”.