The "uncomfortableness" of networking

Posted by Brien Keegan

I have just returned to NZ from the SingularityUSummit in Australia, which was amazing by the way – stay tuned for a separate update on this!    

I attended the event without knowing anyone and it made me realise just how uncomfortable networking can be, so I thought I’d share some thoughts with you about it.    


Purely an extrovert’s game?

I have decided that I am not a massive extrovert (also validated by many psychometric assessments!).  It made me think, is networking just an extrovert’s game? 

You can often spot the extroverts almost dancing around the room, moving from one conversation to the next without breaking a sweat.  Meanwhile, I’m the guy awkwardly in the corner, spilling coffee over myself!  


Maybe not...       

Extroverts may be great at breaking the ice, making people laugh and telling a great yarn, but some of the most insightful people I met at the event were seemingly very quiet and just doing their thing.


Making networking more comfortable

Given my experience from the last few days (along with the last 20 years in business) it seems these things can help make networking a little easier:    


1. Embrace the uncomfortable    

It’s often said that the magic only happens outside your comfort zone.  

Sitting next to someone new, walking up to a group you don’t know or joining someone for a coffee honestly feels like a very unnatural experience for many.  

Let’s face it, you’re not going to strike it off with everyone you meet, but the worst that could happen is you have a quick discussion and part ways.  However, if it goes well it could lead to a great business opportunity, collaboration or a new learning - so surely it’s a payoff worth trying for.   


2.Connect with the connectors            

At the Summit I met Amanda, who was one of the event volunteers. She took a genuine interest in me and what Sprout does and on three occasions she introduced me to people I didn’t know.  Find yourself an Amanda that will happily introduce you (Thank You Amanda!!!). 

There are often people at events that are already well connected, so don’t be afraid to ask them who you should speak to.


3.Provide a sense of belonging    

If networking is uncomfortable for you, then surprise, surprise, it’s probably uncomfortable for others at these events too. Say hello to those that are on their own, or if you see someone looking a bit lost, ask them to join your group. 

At Sprout, we know that one of the greatest factors of employee engagement is a sense of belonging.  This is no different in networking — if you can provide someone a sense of belonging by joining your group and making them feel welcomed, you will make their day. 

“Reach out and amazing things can happen” Pat Shepherd

In summary, I am reminded about something I heard Pat from the One Percent Collective share with me years ago— Reach out an amazing things can happen. 

This is so true. Pat taught me that the worst that can happen is that someone can only say ‘no’.  The old adage of nothing venturednothing gained also rings true. 

From this event alone I have met some awesome people from around the world who have taught me many new things around mindfulness, exponential technologies, deeper networks, collaborations and ideas for me personally to improve myself and our business. 

These are just my thoughts. If you have any ideas to share on how to help make networking less uncomfortable, then please let us know!

Brien Keegan is our CEO at Sprout NZ. If you want to discuss your business and the benefits of reaching out to others then drop Brien a line on      



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