Meet your tribe when you choose events with the intent to benefit and add benefit explains Arini Vlotman

When I first started working on this article the world was a vastly different place. In February I attended Executive Support LIVE in Johannesburg and I was buzzing with energy from all the amazing speakers and guests that attended the conference. There I was, surrounded by people who lived the same or similar values as me. I found myself talking, laughing and making plans with people who, just the day before, were complete strangers. How, I wondered, had I managed to make so many connections over just a few hours?

In the interests of full transparency, I have found it very difficult to network. I don’t think I understood the concept. Don’t get me wrong, I saw the value of networking, I just didn’t know how to network. It felt very awkward, like I was on the outside looking in.  I’ve now realized that if you engage with people who are interested in the same ideas as you, who have the same drive as you do or show passion in how they feel, you become part of a community. And there is no greater feeling than the sense of belonging. So, now I choose the initiatives that I would like to be part of or contribute to, because that’s where I’ll find my tribe. I no longer attend events just for the sake of being there, I choose them with the intent to benefit and add benefit.

Connecting with Authenticity

I’ve realized that authenticity is a big contributor to successful networking. I tossed that fake persona in the bin and with it went my anxiety. By doing that, I learnt that there is a difference between networking and connecting. When you meet people who are on the same wavelength as you, who have similar goals and aspirations, there is none of that dreaded awkwardness but a mutual respect for each other and your shared interest. One minute you are all strangers and the next you are making plans to work and collaborate with each other. My various social media accounts grew overnight, not just by the number of friends that I had made but by their ideas and insights. Every day I learn something new.

Connecting with someone doesn’t happen very often either. From the hundreds of people that I have met there is a small percentage that I found myself clicking with, and years later I can look back at the circumstances that brought that individual to me and be thankful because they added value to my life.

Fast forward a couple of months, and I found myself incredibly grateful (once again) for these connections because the world had become a much darker place. COVID-19 had placed many countries on lockdown, including my own. Social distancing became the new norm and physical hugs became a thing of the past.

Ironically, this change reinforced the feeling I had experienced when I attended Executive Secretary Live! The community that I was now part of rose and engulfed me in positivity. We weren’t just talking ‘business’, we were now helping each other cope through feelings that we couldn’t identify or deal with. Each of us had changed significantly and as scary as that was, we knew that we were not alone in how we felt.

The True Value in Seeking and Finding Your Tribe

Shared values and passions aside, you now have a community that understands you and if they don’t, they try to. In a world that has changed overnight I am no longer alone in this struggle. I don’t feel the need to hide my insecurities and fears. I can share my insights and contribute to the many like-minded people that I have connected with. Imagine a new world, one where there are no longer cultural, religious, language or even country borders that separate you! That’s the world that we can find ourselves flourishing in, and that’s the world that we can work towards.

Arini Vlotman is an EQ and Personal Development Trainer, Life Coach, Author and Public Speaker. Having worked as an Executive Assistant for over 10 years, she is passionate about upskilling administrators using both her experience and expertise in L&D ... (Read More)

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