I attended the Fresno Women's Network meeting this Tuesday, as I do nearly every month. Much to my surprise, I felt a little bit awkward. It was an uncomfortable feeling and it seemed like I was having to work harder than usual. This isn't normal for me. I network frequently and feel comfortable, especially among my friends at the FWN.
What was the difference this time? I had been out (a combination of illness and vacation) for nearly three weeks. Not only was I gone from work, but I didn't check email, take voice messages or even think about work during that time. I was "rusty." I had to get back in the groove and get my mind wrapped around work and networking again.
Do you find yourself uncomfortable at networking events? Let me suggest that it may simply be from taking too much time between activities. If you were going to learn the piano, you wouldn't go weeks between practice sessions. Or if you did, you wouldn't be surprised that your next session needed a lot of backtracking and review.
Networking is a skill like any other. Wouldn't it make sense that you would need to be a regular and consistent networker in order to keep your abilities working well, much less improving?