4 Tips for Overcoming Networking Nervousness

Focus on What You WantHave you ever been nervous about attending a networking event?  Here are 4 tips on overcoming the fear of rejection or of being judged:

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?

My Love Box: Treasures in a Shoe Box

My "Love Box"

The shoebox, an old Puma athletic shoe box, sits under my bed.  On the outside it doesn’t look like much, but, oh, what treasures lie inside!

Welcome to my “Love Box.”

Inside are precious cards and notes from my children, my husband and friends.  There are a few bits of memorabilia–a few sports buttons–I didn’t know where else to put them and I couldn’t just throw them away.   OK, I’m a sentimental sap at times.

Every so often, on one of my few “bad” days, I pull it out and read a few notes.  As I read the notes I’m reminded that although I’m just an ordinary person, I’m a special person , at least to a few people, at least for a time.

I mentioned the “Love Box” idea to an acquaintance recently and she said she does the same thing, virtually.  She has a “me” folder on her computer to save uplifting emails.

You never know when your words of praise or encouragement might mean the world to someone.  Is there someone you could encourage today?  Or, maybe you just need to take a few moments with your own version of a Love Box and remember that you are a special person, at least to a few people, at least for a time.

Do you have a  Love Box?  Or a “Me” folder?

Below is just a sampling of a few items that are in my “Love Box:”

Adopted Son's First Christmas

Last day teaching karate

Uplifting words from a friend

First time daughter wrote "I love you"

New Year’s Resolutions = 9 Ways You Are Setting Yourself Up for Failure

It’s almost time for the annual reformation.  The new year is around the corner and with it our habit of looking at the clean slate of the next 12 months as an opportunity for change.

I’m all for making positive changes, but frankly new year’s resolutions are a waste of time.

Most people fail to keep them.

Why do they fail (and what can you do)?

1. Arbitrary timing.  Just because it’s a new year is not a motivating enough reason to create the desire to change.

2. Too many goals.  People usually come up with a resolution list.  Fighting the war of willpower on multiple fronts can be overwhelming.  Pick one goal to get started.  When you build your mental muscle in one area, you can leverage that new strength in another area.

3. Unrealistic goals.  Making a million dollars or losing 100 pounds might be unrealistic.  How about making $500 or losing 10 pounds to get started? Use S.M.A.R.T. goals.

4. Lack of an action plan.  Successful action plans typically involve breaking down goals into smaller action steps and rewarding yourself when you achieve a baby step.  Yes, this does mean you need to record your actions (e.g. a food journal).

5. Lack of action.  Most likely, you already know what to do.  You just need to do it.  If you need support to take action, get support.  Groups like Weight Watchers can help.

6. Lack of accountability.  If you keep a goal to yourself, nobody knows when you’ve blown it.  Tell friends and family.  Join a group.  Get an accountability partner.

7. Visualization of goal attainment.  OK.  I’m going completely against the self-help gurus’ advice here.  But in my experience visualizing myself having attained a goal has NEVER motivated me toward it.  In fact, if you believe the self-help gurus when they say that you can trick your brain into believing something is true when you visualize it, then your brain already believes you have attained your goal, so why work at it?  However, visualization of the steps to success can be helpful.  Many studies have shown that people who visualize themselves practicing something have more success than those who don’t. Visualize doing, not achieving.

8. Not controlling the environment.  If you want to avoid certain tempting foods, keep them out of the house.  You know your temptations.  Make plans to thwart them.  If you want to save more money, have money deducted from your paycheck for your 401K.

9. Giving up too easily.  Many people give up when they experience a setback.  Accept that there will be setbacks.  Remember two steps forward and one step back is still a step forward.

This year, don’t make resolutions; make a real change in your life.  One day at a time. One week at a time. One goal at a time.

What is your opinion on new year’s resolutions?

10 Ways to Build Confidence Today

What does every person want?


Confidence comes from within.  Confidence is about overcoming limiting beliefs. Confidence is about overcoming fear.

You were born with only two fears:  the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises.  Everything else is learned.

How can you become more confident?

1. Take Action—Action conquers fear.  Action is the most significant confidence-builder. Self-confidence builds with achievement and takes failures in stride by focusing on the learning experience.  Take action. Take baby steps toward achievement.  What little action toward a greater goal can you take today?  Pick one thing that you can do today.  Maybe that one thing is buying a book to motivate yourself.  Fire Your Fear! by Deirdre Van Nest is a quick read that can do just that!

2. Project a Positive Personality—A sense of optimism breeds confidence.  Looking for the good in yourself and others builds positive momentum.  Take a gratitude moment every day to reflect on the positive. Laugh often, even if you have to force it at first.  Do you need a quick Laughter Lesson?

3. Pursue a Passion—When you care about something so much that you forget to care what others think, you look at what you do and say as a gift you are giving to others.  Find a cause outside of yourself.  A dream coach, like Betty Liedtke, can help you if you need to break through to find and pursue your passion.

4. Participate—contributing to group efforts and looking beyond yourself will grow your sense of community and possibly even your leadership skills, which in turn build self-confidence.  Take your passion and find an outlet.  Check out non-profits, look for a Meet-Up group, look for events in your area.

5. Get Healthier—when you are healthy and energetic, it is easier to be positive and self-confident.  Pick one area to start with.  Examples:  Start every day with an 8 oz glass of water.  Go to bed 30 minutes earlier.  Do 10 push-ups and 10 sit-ups every morning.  Park further away and walk.

6. Dress and Act the Part—Act “as if.”  Act and dress the part.  Action can precede feeling.  Acting confident and looking good can help you feel confident.  Start with your posture.  Sit up straight as you are working.  Before you enter a room, imagine a fishing line attached to your hip bones that runs through your chest and out the top of your head.  Imagine it is pulling you to stand tall.  Next, invest in at least one outfit that makes you feel like a million bucks and wear it often!  Put a shopping trip on your calendar.  If you feel clueless, hire an image consultant like Monica Molstad Baresh.  Worth every penny.

7. Stop the Negative Self-Talk.  Immediately nip it in the bud before it grows into a life-choking vine that strangles the self-confidence right out of you.  Practice thought displacement.  When a negative, confidence-busting thought takes hold, immediately root it out with a positive counter-thought.  For example, if your thought is something like “I’m not good enough,” replace it with, “I’m taking action to get better.  I’m  . . . [focus on the actions].”

8. Dump the Baggage—take a look at what’s weighing you down–from the smallest hassle of losing things on a messy desk to the big, energy-sucking messy relationships.  Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do to reduce the heavy load.  Start with the easy stuff.  Take 10 minutes to go through the piles on your desk.  Set a timer and really do it.  I dare you.  Do it now.   Take action.

9. Seek a Spiritual Foundation—If you are so inclined, consider that that you are a special creation, created for a greater purpose. You have confidence in something other than self.  Reflect, meditate or pray first thing in the morning to start your day.  If you didn’t do it today, do it now, even for just a moment.

10. Join Toastmasters. One of the biggest self-confidence building actions I have ever taken was to join a Toastmasters Club.  I didn’t join because I wanted to build self-confidence, but the fun and positive association of the club members and the fact that I took little baby steps of action to conquer fear of public speaking and then to improve my communication and leadership skills led to growing self-confidence.  Find a club today.

What do you do to build your self-confidence?

At the Crossroads of Heart vs. Mind

It was the summer of 1981 and I was a college student on a tight budget standing in a German train station.  I stood at the crossroads of heart versus mind over a $35 train fare.

The words from President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 speech denouncing communism echoed in my heart:

Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free.

All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin . . Ich bin ein Berliner. . .

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