Guest post by Dr. A. Yanina Gomez
Have I ever told you about my former fear known as “NETWORKING”? Shocked! Well, networking events are not as popular in the field of psychology. There are a few conferences here and there but not organized networking events. At least, that I know of. So, a few years ago, when I crossed over to the art world, I’ve quickly learned that networking is king! I knew that I had to get on it immediately but I also knew that I didn’t have much experience in this area!
So, check this out. Our gallery was a member of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. This organization is well known for their involvement in policymaking and tons of amazing networking events. And, if I wanted to get the best out of our membership, I had to attend these events, right? The problem is that, due to our schedules, Sergio is often unable to come with me. Well, my first networking event was one of the most HORRIFYING experiences in my life. Picture yourself running away from the zombies that are piling up to jump over the big wall to get you just like in the World War Z movie kind of experience. Intense. I know, right!
On the way to my first event, I was so stressed out (remember, I was not used to this networking mambo). Can you believe it? And, do you want to know why I was so stressed out? Here’s my confession. Instead of thinking about the benefits of the event and strategizing to maximize the experience, I was thinking about how I was going to be standing there… all alone looking like a pitiful fool. I was thinking that I did not know anybody and that people will care less about art, the gallery and what I had to say. Then, something amazing happened in my precious head! I realized that every single thought going through my mind at that moment was PURE NONSENSE! I was simply building up my stress level for no reason.
That’s when I realized… wait for it … I was totally thinking irrationally! What on earth am I doing to myself? I took a deep breath and came back to my senses. “Good grief Yanina, think rationally!” I said to myself. I realized that most people who attend these events go there for the SAME reason I do. To network, be resourceful and share about their businesses. There was my aha moment: we all go to these events for the same reason and many, just like me, go solo.
So, to make a long story short, I began to see these events as a gold mine. The connections and relationships that have emerged from attending these events are priceless. Once I faced, identified and changed my perspective about this irrational fear, opportunities began to emerge. Consequently, (here’s the twist to this story) my passion to teach others about making the best of stress was born!
Does my story resonate with yours? We encourage you to develop some strategies to cope with your insecurities or fears. If being in a crowd makes you very uncomfortable, come up with a few key questions that you can ask, so others will do the talking and you’ll do the listening…. Also, come up with a few lines to end a conversation. If your mind freezes due to stress and you’re feeling super uncomfortable simply excuse yourself, walk away, take a break and re-join the crowd when you’re ready. It’s OK! Think of a few scenarios and practice them by yourself in front of the mirror or with someone you trust.
Until you begin to intentionally put yourself in situations that you have to do to grow but they make you uncomfortable, your fear will not be defeated. The more you put yourself in that situation, the more comfortable you will be! As Chris Hawker (serial entrepreneur and professional inventor) once said “Breakdowns are often the path to breakthroughs!” They force you to reflect on your possibilities, redesign your path, and create a new future from a more experienced perspective.
So, what are your thoughts on this week’s topic? Have you found an effective strategy to deal with uncomfortable situations like networking or facilitating an artist talk that you would like to share with us? Write your comments below.
As always, artists who maintain an optimal wholeness balance (Mind, Body, Soul) will be ahead of the game!