4 Tips for Overcoming Networking Nervousness
May 23, 2012 1 Comment
1. Focus on What you Want. I think the number one thing you can do is to focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want. If you focus on the outcome you desire, or on the relationships you want to develop instead of what could go wrong, you will approach networking events with a positive mindset.
It’s very easy to let your fear grow to Goliath proportions. But just like David slew Goliath with small stones from a sling shot, you can shoot down your fears with small and simple steps.
2. Face the Fear. Realizing that it is very hard not to focus on what might go wrong, at times I allow myself to focus on the fear just long enough to deal with it. I like to play the “Worst Case Scenario” game when it comes to possible negative outcomes. What is the worst case scenario that could happen in being judged or rejected at a networking event? Is the other person likely to throw a punch at you? No. Is your life in danger? No. Are they even likely to laugh at you? Probably not. In reality, the fear is of saying something wrong–something stupid or offensive. Right? So, ask yourself, “What is the worst that can happen if I say something stupid?” Probably the worst thing that can happen is that the other person may judge you based on that one interaction and you won’t do business with them. Is that OK with you? Is it OK that you don’t do business with everyone you meet?
Then, depending on what your worst case scenario is, you can even have a plan for how to handle it. For example, I still struggle with remembering people’s names. My worst case scenario is running into someone whose name I should know, but I can’t recall. I actually have a few different plans for handling that situation. But, my fall back is to simply admit it. I just face the fear, plan for how to deal with it and move on. Just mentally deal with it and get over it.
3. Give a Gift. What I mean by “give a gift” is to believe that you have something of great value to offer. A gift. If you don’t already believe this, then you need to spend some time developing your own list of advantages and benefits. When you believe that you have something of great value to offer, you get the same feeling that you have when you give someone a gift that is the perfect gift. You get excited to give it. You focus more on the other person and less on yourself. Fear is very inward-looking. Focus outward by focusing on the other person and what you have to offer. Give a gift.
4. Find Friends. Consider strangers as friends you haven’t met yet. Think about it. Aside from blood-relatives, all the important people in your life–your spouse, your best friend, your current business associates–they were all strangers at one time.
One thing I sometimes do as I enter a room full of strangers is to pause, look around at the people, and imagine that they are already my good friends that I haven’t seen in ages. I think to myself, “Hello, old friends.” And, these “old friends” probably have their own fears of rejection, too! You can focus on helping them feel comfortable–that’s something you’d do for a friend!
Focus on what you want. Face the fear. Give a gift. Find some friends.
Do you have some tips for reducing nervousness?