Friday, September 3, 2010

(the IDEAS) of Networking for a Shy Woman

One of the Board Members for IDEAS NSW, Joanna Nicol, writes a magnificent blog about her experiences in a wheelchair, about day-to-day life for a person with disability and about other interesting things that come across her amazing mind. Luckily she has given me permission to share with you one of her blog posts which relates to us. I ofcourse suggest that you have a look at her site though, it is very thoughtful and fascinating.

Joanna Nicol

People find this difficult to believe, but I’m shy. At least in some sense of the word. The way I describe it to people I am not comfortable in a crowd or with starting conversations with strangers. But I see no point in being backward about the obvious factors of my disability.

I might indeed be externally good at socializing but it certainly doesn’t rock my boat and I find it exhausting. Networking especially in a crowded room of people with whom the connection is tenuous is really hard.

Yet there I was the other night in a room full of “uprights” (200 hundred or so of them) representing a NGO I’m on the board of; IDEAS — Information on Disability & Education Awareness Services. We, IDEAS are an information provider on broad base information for people with disability, their family and “supporters”. So basically anything from holiday accommodation with ramps and rails to sign language course referrals to wheelchair repair places and information on the pension; IDEAS can point you in the right direction, at least in New South Wales. For us it’s about enabling participation and choice. (It really is a great service with two other arms too.)

We are a finalist in a category of a small business awards for the local government area. No winners were announced at this event. It was a “networking opportunity” with speeches/advertising from the sponsors. It was crowded. I sat in a corner so that I didn’t knock or get knocked. But I’m proud of myself. From my vantage point I watched people AND talked to people many of whom were I think surprised to see me and us there. I also gave the above spiel, and gave out cards. I wasn’t the first to leave either!

Mission accomplished I think.

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