Friday, October 21, 2011

Networking Events Can Mentally Hurt

I was the Emcee at an awards event.  My wife was away on business at the same time, so my 9-year-old came with me (as I had no other child care options).  This is not the first time the kids have had to accompany me to a speech or other business gathering, and I am understanding that this is hardly the high-light of the day for a child.

The event was in a convention center ball room.  The kid brought her homework, and was planning to sit in the back of the room while I did my thing.  Just before I started she asked if she could sit outside into the hallway.  She did not seem to be herself.  She said she felt okay, but something was not right.

As soon as I finished the program one of the organizers came and told me that my daughter seemed to be ill.  She was sitting outside, and I feared she was sick.  Within minutes of leaving the area, she perked back up and was her "old self" by the time we reached the car.

I inquired about the situation, to which she proclaimed she was not sick, but instead in pain.  I queried more to find out that she was not really having physical problems, but instead was painfully bored while all the grown ups networked.  She also said that too many of them were coming up and talking to her and asking her questions (like her name).

"Networking events hurt mentally", she said.

Have you ever felt that way?  You do not need to be nine to want to escape a business event and this feeling is not limited to those who are introverts.  Having to have conversations with strangers can be scary and make some people uncomfortable. We all get bored when the focus of the discussions does not align with our interests. There was no talk of puppies, The Wizards of Waverly Place, or ice cream.  Who could blame her for becoming lethargic!

For those of us of out of elementary school there ARE benefits to cultivating professional relationships, and just because it is not our favorite activity, it does not mean we should skip out altogether.  I admit, sometimes it is not easy.

The next time she has to come with me (and there will be a next time) I will do a better job of preparing her for the event.  Whenever one has a clear set of objectives and understanding of purpose for being present, the experience is always more enjoyable.

How about you... do you ever feel that networking events "hurt mentally"? How do you get through the event without sitting in the corner looking ill?

Have A Great Day.


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