Interacting with people, to some can be effortless while it can to be terrifying to some. Networking is also a form of interaction but with a purpose. Many people mistake networking and socializing as the same thing. Networking is directly linked to one’s career and its development while socializing is building companionship.
Networking is more like a skill. People who are not good or terrified can work on it to conquer the fear and be a better networker. Even those people who actually enjoy networking need preparation. So let’s have a look at why people fear networking:
- What if I say something wrong
- What if no one is interested in what I'm
- What if my talk bores them
- What if I'm not able to maintain conversation
flow and there are awkward silences
- What if people think I'm selfish and
manipulative for personal benefits
Here are few pointers to help you overcome the fear of networking and further your career:
● Small start: Do not push yourself into a large networking if interacting with strangers intimidates you. The first logical step would be reaching out to a family, friend or co-worker. According to a research, “Starting with a known person instead of an unknown demystifies the networking process and helps get a shy person over the hurdle.”
● Preparations: Not just networking but successful networking requires preparation. When you are to attend a networking event, research and find out all you can about the event. Try to know what types of people are likely to attend the event and if there’s anyone in specific you’d like to approach to. Besides that, decide and work on what information you’d want to convey about yourself. Preparation is very important to keep your game up and to avoid awkward silences which make a person extremely nervous.
● Body language: Body language can reveal your emotions. One can easily predict if you are happy, sad, nervous, excited and anxious from your body language. It is very important to be calm and alert and send the right signals. Maintain correct body posture to express confidence and do not forget to smile. Make firm handshakes and eye contact with people you interact.
● Be yourself: The pressure to perform at networking events can be intense, especially when you’re frightened of communicating with people. People try too hard and end up overdoing it. Many people think it’s important to be an extrovert to be interesting and to attract people. But it’s okay to be shy and a little awkward. Nobody’s perfect and neither does the networking event has to be perfect. It’s necessary to be realistic and to be you.
● Practice: Practicing is not an option. It is very important to practice. You can stand in front of the mirror and practice. That way you can evaluate yourself and work on your flaws. You can ask somebody who you are comfortable making mistakes in front of to help you while rehearsing.
Do not hesitate while approaching people in networking events. Remember that everyone is there for same purpose: to make connections. Do not limit yourself to conferences or events, you can network wherever there are people, in person or digitally. Learn how to establish reference because networking is the key to career success.