Come on, rabbit, don’t be shy!

Rabbit shape

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Quite often when I am taking my evening walk, I pass a man of about my age scurrying back from the rail station. No doubt he is a City worker. He does not meet my eye and scoots past like a frightened rabbit. Generally when I pass someone out walking, I say hello, especially if I quite often see the person. None of my attempts at greeting this guy have elicited any response, so I have given up.

The ant hill

To a degree I understand the man’s attitude. It is a sort of defence mechanism some adopt when they work in a big city, especially a capital city. There are just so many people. I know what it is like to find my way through an enormous number of people especially at a mainline rail station. One is reduced to ant status, almost climbing through and round the crowd to get where we want to.

This defence mechanism often extends to the workplace too, particularly if people are unhappy and just turn up, keep their heads down and work just because it pays the bills. I used to do that too. I stopped doing it because if you keep your head down people really do crawl all over you, and at the time it was a conscious decision. I realised I was not getting anywhere at the place I was working and that I was badly undervalued. I left and got a much better job with more responsibility, which was much more rewarding and which gained me a lot more pay.

The warren

Once we have our own business, we can’t be frightened rabbits. After all, rabbits are social animals really. We have to be seen and noticed. We have to network and build relationships in person and online. You know that already.

As an employee I DID make a conscious decision to go for better things.

When I set up my own business it was still pretty tough for a natural introvert like me. I had done a course on public speaking as an employee, mainly because I had to do a course and I had done all the others. It didn’t train me to present myself properly, because you only learn by doing it in practice. I have to thank BNI for that because it is where I cut my networking teeth. Getting business there was not all that successful because I could not get my ideal business category, but I benefited a great deal from the training.

To see me online you might not think I am a shy person, but by nature I am. We need to be ourselves when we network, but for many of us we still have to overcome our inhibitions and not hide away even when we would like to. I have got used to being “out there”, and that’s what we all have to do, but at the start it’s not easy, is it?

 

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Comments

  1. It can take a while to move from that “city” attitude to being more open, not being afraid to be open – but when we get that, the sky’s the limit.

    When I moved to London from being a west-country mouse I would smile and look at people on the tube and when walking around – and I actually found a more welcome response than I had in Bristol, which surprised me. The tales of how unfriendly the City was were far more offputting.

  2. Yes, Babs. I think the “keeping one’s head down syndrome” comes from working in large organisations and also dealing with the large crowds of commuters at the mainline stations. We do have to stand up for ourselves at some point to get anywhere whether a employees or as business owners when we have no choice if we are going to get anywhere.

    One of the things I most miss about the City, by which I mean the Square Mile, is that really it was like a large village. Walking around at lunchtime I would bump into so many people I knew and would quite often have a chat. That was my old-style network I guess.

  3. I don’t think I’ve improved at all since leaving a fulltime job to start a freelance businessa a few years ago, and I don’t even have the slightest idea how to network. Okay, if i appeared to be like a rabbit going in the opposite direction, would it be effective networking?

    I know the goal of this post is to get people to push themselves and not act like a rabbit, but what deep down you are a rabbit? I’d be curious to know if there are people who continue/continued to follow their introversion type tendancies and in the end do/did well at their business, especially since there are many ways to communicate with people and it doesn’t need to involve constant in person interractions.

    Can’t there be more than one way of doing things? Perhaps be horrible at networking but do well with creating a product or providing a skill?

    Or perhaps I’m making an excuse as to why it is far more comfortable to act like a rabbit.

  4. Susan, thanks for your comment. You may be very good at marketing and able to build your reputation through referrals and through your blog. I gather that you use LinkedIn extensively and successfully, having followed your links.

    It seems to me that you are already “out there” networking on-line and getting business. You have already established and positioned your business. With regard to the face-to-face stuff, I started with a small core BNI pre-launch group and I think I was the sixth to join. It was a soft landing in getting to know other local business people, and I learned to “act” or play a version of myself.

    In your business, perhaps local networking may not suit your marketing, but maybe attending the occasional conference in your specialist area might get you started with off-line networking. Only if you want to, of course, because we are all different and have different needs.

  5. Jon,

    Thanks again for sharing your perceptive; I’ve actually revisited the question several times as to whether in person networking should be part of (my) plan, too. I do like your suggestion to approach a small group and I also heard from another small business person that he started his own group, which could also be a way to start small.

    I really like the ‘visit/attend a conference’ idea because I do enjoy my field and even if it doesn’t turn into work, it is also fun to know what is new in the industry.

    I enjoyed this post and will probably tune in from time to time because I like/enjoy the personal stories and anecdotes vs the “do it this way,” because for whatever reason this approach makes me think a bit more about business problems and perspectives.

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