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  • Writer's pictureNeena Rainey

Becoming a Network Junky: irrational fears versus the honest truth

I remember the words well… they sent a shiver down my spine.

‘’It doesn’t matter how good you are… people will not come and knock on your door asking for your help when they have no bloody idea who you are!”

They were wise words… but NOT the ones I wanted to hear.

What did my daughter know??! She was just an ex-pat coach and mentor with twenty million years’ worth of experience and knowledge under her belt.

But the worst was yet to come… "You need to start Networking and get yourself known.’’

To be honest, I would rather she‘d have said, 'Let the dog poo in your hands and give us a clap.’

At that moment in time, it would have been slightly more appealing!

I’d heard rumours about this Networking malarky.

Super confident people that swopped business cards over stale tepid coffee.

Or worst still, an old boys' corporate venue rammed with dusty-suited farts massaging their already inflated egos. Fictitious… false and possibly another word beginning with ‘’F’ arseholes that were just out to feather their own nest at the cost of others.

Now before my membership is cancelled within the Chambers of Commerce… before I am banned from all past, present and hopefully future networking events, I hold my hands up and say HOW WRONG COULD I HAVE BEEN?!?

Speculation is a dangerous thing… but ignorance can be fatal!

Thank the Lord my daughter Tara ignored my premeditated ideas and misconception and directed me to my first Networking meeting two years ago.

It was thought best I should have a gentle immersion into this world I knew nothing about. After several emails with Jude Chan, I was invited to My Network for Women. The venue was The Wool Market in Central Doncaster. This I felt was imperative to a speedy getaway once it had been confirmed this was no place for a person like me to hang out.

As the days approached the brick in my stomach became heavier.

What would I do if someone spoke to me?

How could I discreetly depart without appearing rude?

Would they judge me because I don’t drink tea or coffee?

More importantly, were there toilets close by I could hide in?

I now know all the above are irrational thoughts of someone stepping out of their comfort zone… but I didn’t then, nor did I realise the day before the event, the worst nightmare was yet to unravel.

Blame it on a peanut… blame it on distraction… but as I heard the crack in my mouth I realised there was no way I would make a dental appointment for a lost crown before the event.

We have very little to thank COVID for, maybe we appreciate things and people more, but I‘d say that was about it. But for all the moaning I did… nothing gave me more comfort than wearing a mask to that first event!

As I hung to the back of the room hoping and praying nobody would talk to me. How wrong could I have been? Within minutes it became apparent we all had to introduce ourselves and so in true ‘Neena fashion’ I proceeded to do just that.

‘’Hi everyone my Name is Neena Rainey…I am a clinical hypnotherapist… but just need you all to know I am cacking my pants and I don’t have a speech impediment, I've just snapped off my front crown and didn’t want to shock you all on my first meeting by looking like Nanny McPhee!”

It was oversharing to the nth degree… but it made them laugh and it broke the ice.

My best tool is always humour.

The biggest laugh came from my first phenomenal connection Jo Ward who would go on to provide invaluable advice and guidance.

The rest is history.

I was like an addict.

My daughter now labels me a Network junky.

The more people I meet,

the more confident I become.

The more people I meet,

the more connections I create.

But I always make sure I look out for the ‘newbies’ and hope I offer them the kindness and support I have been offered over the years.

To crank it up to a higher level, I have been asked to guest speak at two separate networking events this year… not bad for someone who appeared to have hated this form of communicating with others so much!

I've also created my own monthly event called ‘Networking to nourish mind, body and soul.’

A safe space for those less confident but who still want to be heard.

If you have irrational fears of networking as I did, and prefer a softer safe space in which to network (whilst being plied with incredible food) then have a look at my networking sessions below.

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