So I suck at business networking. Well, interacting with people can be a struggle for me in any situation. I know this. Problem is, I'm a consultant now, which means I need to not suck at networking. I'm working on it -- went to a training course, attending networking events and user group meetings, attempting to put myself out there. This is not easy for me since I am an Introvert (yes, with a capital "I"). But today something happened that reminded me that networking is not just about making new relationships -- it's also (and maybe more importantly) about maintaining the ones you've already got.
I was walking out of the office building today in the middle of Chicago's business district. The sidewalks were filled with hundreds of people out to get lunch. I had been in meetings all morning and was behind on emails, so (not different from usual) had my eyes planted on my iPhone as I waited for traffic to slow to a point I could safely jay-walk across the street to PotBelly's. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a black SUV pulling over to my side of the street and slowing down with it's window lowered. At this point, I was no longer glued to my iPhone and was pondering if I should be concerned for my safety. As the car pulled closer, it became obvious they were pulling up to me until the vehicle stopped right in front of me and the driver became visible. As the driver began to politely ask if I would mind making a phone call for him (he had left his phone in his office and needed to call someone to bring it down since there's no parking in the area), I realized I knew this person. He was on the IT staff for a client I had recently worked with, although I had only a brief interaction with this man and he obviously didn't immediately recognize me. I gladly agreed to make the call for him and (re)introduced myself as the number rang.
I could just as easily (or more easily, I think) have just ignored the driver or walked away before they arrived at my feet, but this is one case where I was able to re-establish a connection, however briefly. And maybe, if this client ever has a need for a consulting firm in the future, my generosity may make a difference. And it was a nice thing to do, which is enough reason on it's own.
Thanks for reading my first blog post.