177: Overcoming Your Fear of Networking

Overcoming Your Fear of Networking

Let me start by saying that MANY people are afraid to network.

Here’s what they tell me:

-I don’t know many people

-I don’t know what to say

-I don’t know how to reach out

-I can’t network during a pandemic

- I’m awkward in a large group

All of these thoughts are just that…thoughts. And they are all overcomable.

Let’s first talk about one-to-one networking, then we’ll discuss networking events.

One-to-one Networking

LinkedIn is your best friend when it comes to finding people to networking with.

With one-to-one networking, the fear usually centers around WHO you know and WHAT to say.

Here are my top eight tips for one-to-one networking:

  1. Start with people you already know

  2. Don’t worry about what field they are in, whether they are also looking for a job, or anything else

  3. Reach out via LinkedIn or email to check in on them

  4. If they respond, suggest a live or Zoom meeting organically

  5. The 80/20 rule – make it mostly about them

  6. Be interested, then interesting

  7. Follow up and follow through after your meeting

  8. Don’t drop the ball – networking is not a one-and-done kind of thing

Networking Events

I separate networking events into two categories:

-Events specifically for networking (it’s usually in the title)

-Events where networking can occur (people aren’t too drunk and the music isn’t too loud)

Fear around networking events usually centers around not liking crowds. Keep in mind that not all networking events are huge, and you may choose to start with smaller ones as you build your confidence and skill level.

Here are 12 tips for managing your fear around networking events:

  1. You don’t have to talk to everybody – but you do need to talk to somebody

  2. Bring a networking buddy

  3. Set a specific goal for each networking event

  4. Do your homework – can you find out who will be there ahead of time?

  5. Use LinkedIn to research specific people you want to meet

  6. Focus on being a listener rather than a talker

  7. Arrive early (so you don’t have to walk into a crowded room where everyone has seemingly already paired up)

  8. Be present – avoid wandering eyes and body language that doesn’t send the “I’m interested in what you’re saying” message

  9. Be kind to yourself as you overcome your fear and learn networking skills

  10. Call a time out during the event, if needed

  11. Position yourself so you can more easily extract yourself from a conversation when it’s time to move on

  12. Follow up and follow through

Are you in the wrong job that chips away at you every day? The CareerSpring coaching program will help you find a job that uses your zone of genius, recognizes your value, and pays you what you’re worth.

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