I went to a networking event last week where I watched the host work the room from the moment the first person walked in. She greeted everyone with a smile, chatted as they wrote on their nametags and integrated them into the group of business professionals who were already deep in conversation. She was the first person to get there and the last one to leave, and she had engaging conversations with every person in attendance. She even worked her magic on the manager to get free appetizers for the group. Selling herself is clearly something that comes easy to her. Until it turned from professional to personal. It was like watching her melt into a puddle of water.
At the end of the night, with only a few of us left at the event, she told us that one guy caught her eye. I knew exactly who she was talking about because I saw them together several times throughout the event, so I told her that it seemed like he was interested in her too. That comment flipped a switch. She started stumbling over her words and the confident women who had been there all night was now gone. She turned to the small group of remaining marketing folks to tell us that her plan for reaching out to him was to send a group email thanking everyone for coming and then see if he responds. She barely got the words out her mouth before we all emphatically said, Nooooooo.
We told her to send an individual email to him, but she said that was too hard to send. She was afraid to reach out to him. When we asked why, she said, what if he has a girlfriend, or he’s not interested, or he doesn’t remember me? Nooope. Nope. And nope. She didn’t take our advice, and after two days, she finally got the courage to send a LinkedIn request. I told her to also send a Facebook friend request so he knows that she wants to connect personally, not just professionally, but she was nervous. I reminded her that before he left the event, she said he should meet up with our Wolfpack to watch football this Fall, so he wouldn’t be surprised if he reached out via Facebook.
“If he blows me off, I will die,” she texted back.
I read the message twice because I couldn’t tell if she was joking. She put so much weight on something so easy, so I spent some time convincing her that she will actually survive if for some reason he doesn’t accept her request. Fear of rejection is real, but the more you put yourself out there, the easier it is to take that chance. If she does nothing, she’s already failed. At least now she has a chance. Request sent.