The Huge Misconception I Held – And Why It Led To Me Launching A Business



When I was 23, I got to experience what it’s like to be a pop star.


I spent a year as the Chair of the Student Radio Association, a sort of union for student radio stations in the UK. I know, I know – it’s hardly joining Spice Girls. Bear with me.

My taste of fame

After I got elected at the yearly AGM & conference, a load of us went for a drink. The only thing I’d done as Chair at that point was to stand on stage and give a three minute speech about why I thought I’d be good for the role. My sole competitor was not a terribly serious candidate, and I was voted in by 33 stations to three. 

I arrived at the pub a little after everyone else, and plonked myself at the end of a table that had four people sitting along each side. Then, something peculiar happened: 

Everyone stopped their conversations and turned to me. After some (on my part, confused) silence, I started nervously rambling – truly saying nothing of any worth. And the strangest part? They were enthralled. 

Everything I said, was fascinating to them. Every joke I made, they fell about laughing. It was wild. I kept wanting to stop, mid-sentence, and say, “Guys! I’m really not that funny or interesting! I actually make a lot of lame gags that fall flat, and have a tendency to put way too much detail into my stories. You can totally go back to your own conversations – it’s fine!”. They didn’t seem to notice.

Woah, I thought. So this is how J-Lo feels. No wonder celebrities are often considered arrogant – it would be hard not to be if this is how everyone reacts to you.

A less romantic result – and why I started Yes Yes Marsha

The other thing I got to experience as Chair was the sheer, white-knuckle terror of networking – as felt by almost all of my clients before our first session (and by a lot of the visitors to 

As part of my tenure, I had to go to the The Radio Festival – a behemoth of an event, where 500 of the most influential people in the industry go to rub shoulders. 

I. Was. Petrified. I spent the entire three days on the verge of puking, cemented to the wall, hoping to heaven that no one would catch me out for the coward I was. 

Why did I feel like that? Because I was supposed to be networking. Networking. And not only for myself, but for the 2,000 people I was there representing. 

And the reason that made me so nauseous was because of what networking meant to me. I was convinced that I was expected to walk up to the head of the BBC, bellowing,

“GREG! Hi ! Listen – I’m amazing. Given the chance, the Student Radio Association and I will change the face of your corporation! Whaddaya say?”

Because I am a normal person, this made me quake with fear from my head, right to the fringe of my floor-length, hot pink, crocheted cardigan.

(It was the 90’s).

So I did nothing. I mumbled a few words to a mousy intern from a diminutive local station (who was as surprised and terrified to be there as I was), then slunk to bed early, cursing myself.

How I learned to deal with this – and use it to my advantage

The years went by and, through trial and error, I got to learn an essential fact – one that my entire business is based on:

Networking is not the scary, schmoozy thing I thought it was.

It’s just talking to nice people you like and get on with, then keeping in touch with them.

In the years after that Radio Festival, I went on to get some pretty exciting and sought-after jobs. All of them – ALL OF THEM – came through networking. Sure, I worked hard once I got the jobs. But I never had one job interview, or filled in a single application form. Every time, I was introduced to my employer by someone I already had a relationship with. 

And here’s the important part: NONE of those relationships came through doing “Hi, I’m amazing“-style networking. They were just people I wanted to be friends with.

Your turn

Next time you go to an event that might require some networking, I want you to bear this in mind.

Don’t look at the room, thinking, “Who do I need to impress? How best can I do this?”. 

Instead, think, “Who here looks nice? Who could I imagine being friends with?”


When you’re networking, the best approach is to think,

“Who here can I imagine being friends with?”

(Tweet that by clicking here!)

You will need to put yourself around the crowd a bit; you can’t usually tell who your future buddies are just from how they look (though that does happen). And you’ll need to chase them up with a ‘nice to meet you‘ email – ideally adding a little value to them.

But, I promise you: you don’t need to bellow anything to anyone, or talk about how amazing you are.glasgow-meal-sra-station-managers cropped

You are, however, welcome to wear a fringed, crocheted, floor-length, hot pink cardigan. Maybe it’s a look you can actually pull off.

Over To You

What’s been a good career lesson you’ve learned from your fickle youth? Let me know in the comments below!


You rule,

xx (Yes Yes) Marsha

PS If this is a story that sounds familiar, I have something just for you. Networking 101 is a service with proven results, that can completely change your approach to networking and give your career or business the boost you haven’t yet figured out how to score – but know you deserve. Hop over and find out more, by clicking here: 

PPS this week, I told the Yes Yes Marsha Mailer Family the reason I chose to tell you this story today – and why you should ALWAYS be careful with technology.

Want to know my best-ever client secret – and get even more advice, tips, plus stories that I won’t put on the internet? Come and join the Yes Yes Family – it’s free! Just pop your details in below:

Photo credits: Ogiyoshisan via Compfight cc, and Olly Benson .


  • Jackie

    Reply Reply November 29, 2013

    Hilarious and brilliant at the same time–as always. Thank you for this post, Marsha! I went to a big science-y conference as an undergrad to present my honours thesis and I spent pretty much every spare minute in my hotel room because I was way too intimidated to talk to anyone! I love your networking re-frame, it makes it sooo much easier :) I like making friends!

    • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Marsha Shandur

      Reply Reply November 29, 2013

      Jackie – I had EXACTLY the same experience at a “Do You Want To Study Psychology” conference when I was 18! I was too scared to go to dinner alone, so I sat in my dorm room with one packet of Love Hearts, crunching their dusty sweetness, in pain both because I was so hungry, and so full of shame.
      Poor old past us! Here’s to no more hiding in future.

  • Silvia Bianco

    Reply Reply November 30, 2013

    Don’t know how I inspired you Marsha but you crack me up every week. Your quirky style for dispatching your practical wisdom is so unique that I totally get how you’d get jobs without ever being interviewed. I’d want you on my team too!

    • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Marsha Shandur

      Reply Reply November 30, 2013

      Bless you, Silvia! If being on your team meant eating your AMAZING food, then I am IN!

  • Cecilia

    Reply Reply December 6, 2013

    Fabulous post again Marsha!
    Did I ever tell you about the time that I went to a nudist beach full of Germans at the ripe age of 14? I’ll tell you, speaking German while naked is the best shy busting technique I’ve ever tried to make speaking English clothed much much easier.


    p.s. You inspired me to make a really sweet connection with the woman sitting next to me on my flight to Calgary a couple of weeks ago. Thank you, it’s great to be reminded that networking is just making friends, I can do that!

    • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Marsha Shandur

      Reply Reply December 6, 2013

      Celia, I’m SO THRILLED about you chatting to your Calgary Companion! That is EXACTLY what networking is – just trying out little chats with people, seeing where it goes, no pressure. Thanks for reporting back!

      And I want to hear the teenage nudist story in full!

  • Olga

    Reply Reply February 12, 2014

    Hell yes! :) And I dare say it works online as well. When I read someone’s blog or website and realize I would love to be friends, then they are usually the people I buy from.

    • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Marsha Shandur

      Reply Reply February 12, 2014

      Olga, this is going to sound crazy, but you know – I never made that connection before, and you’re ABSOLUTELY right! I feel exactly the same way. At the risk of sounding stalky, in my head, I basically already AM friends with Ash Ambirge, Alexandra Franzen, Marie Forleo and Derek Halpern.

      Thanks for the insight!

      • Olga

        Reply Reply February 12, 2014

        You are welcome! And I totally agree with you on the first three and am going to check out the fourth one. ;-)

  • Oh, I so relate to the puking and to being cemented to a wall. I love the mindset shift and I’ll definitely put it into practice. Someone else mentioned that to me as well (to go to networking situations with the intent of seeing who could be a friend). They said, “Go and make it a challenge to find someone cool enough to hang out with.” :)

    • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Marsha Shandur

      Reply Reply May 14, 2014

      Yes! There will likely always be at least one person you feel that way about – so you can make it into a challenge for yourself! Thanks, Leanne.

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