How do you feel about networking? If you are in the significant majority that don’t love it and have networking anxiety then what is it you dislike about it?
Most people, if they are really honest, dislike it because you usually need to find people to talk to and make conversation. Of course, the underlying fear of these elements is likely to be that we’ll be rejected and people won’t want to talk to us. It’s a basic human desire to want to be liked and be able to relate meaningfully to others.
I was reminded of this last week when I was speaking about the importance of networking and core skills at a conference for trainee actuaries. One delegate told me that she constantly worries people won’t be interested in what she has to say.
So I wanted to share 5 simple reminders to help you lessen any networking anxiety:
- Most people feel some anxiety about attending events – you are not alone!
- If you don’t have the same anxiety about social events, try to think about professional events in the same way. You are going to enjoy getting to know people (new people and those you already know), share yourself with them and enable them to share themselves with you. We can all learn things from one another.
- Understand how to read where in the room you are more likely to be welcome i.e. Who to approach. I can help you with this in detail, if you like. One tip though is to look for someone else not actively engaged with anyone. They are likely to be grateful that you approach them.
- Take the pressure off yourself and make it your number one goal to be interested in others. When people mention something, ask them more about it. Good relationships start when people feel valued. To read more about making small talk, click here.
- When it does come to your turn to talk, be as interesting as you can be. Remember, whatever you talk about – your work or otherwise, is all new to others so talk clearly, explain carefully and speak slowly. Everyone is there to get to know others.
To read my complete guide to networking at events click here.
I hope that helps you get networking in context to diminish the fear a little. What’s the worst that can happen? There are very rarely ‘rude’ people at professional events, if you come across one, just move on quickly.
Networking is one of the Nine Neglected Skills needed for career success, if you would like advice and tips on all nine, including a free downloadable Booklet, complete the form below: