Do you get anxious when you’re in public? Do you fear meeting new people and imagine the awkward silence, how you’ll end up saying something wrong, or else? Do you prefer to avoid communication and the chance of rejection?
If that’s you, you’re not alone.
If you’re a bit shy, aren’t a people person, are more of an introvert or just lack the practice, the result is the same. Meeting new people is one of your biggest fears.
However, your future career depends on the actions you’re taking now. The relationships you’re forming while you’re a student and the experience and knowledge you’re gaining from socializing with the right people and being in the right environment will have an impact on your career.
Networking is crucial for your success in the future. The good news is that you’ll get better at it over time. Approach a new person, get yourself to a networking event even when you don’t feel like going and hand out you business card because all that builds up your character.
Here are some tips on how to network even though approaching strangers and starting conversations terrifies you:
- Preparation is key.
Start by doing your research. Learn more about the place you’ll be visiting, talk to somebody who’s been there before and ask about the details (dress code, what to bring, what types of people usually go there, etc.). Learn the basics about the main topic of the event so that you can chat freely about it and not sound like someone who has no idea what’s going on. Knowing where you’re going, who’ll be there and what to expect will prepare you for the event and make you more comfortable during it.
- Set a realistic target.
Anything we do in life should have a purpose, otherwise we rarely get where we’re headed. So ask yourself why you want to network and use the reasons to get motivated and set goals.
It might be because you need to become a better communicator so that you can do well in job interviews and land a good job. Or because the world of public relations, branding and marketing require you to be a social person. Or because you’re ready to get yourself out there and start meeting awesome like-minded people.
Define your goal clearly.
- Focus on others.
Some people wrongly assume that networking is all about promoting yourself and what you do. But it’s just the opposite. It’s about forming relationships in the most genuine way.
If you’re an introvert, that’s actually great. Because as such, you’re a natural listener. You don’t really feel that confident talking about yourself yet, and that means you’ll be able to keep the focus on other people when networking and thus make them feel special.
The next time you have the chance to approach a new person in your field, or are at an event, just go there and get to know them. They’ll most probably enjoy talking about their latest project, or how they got started when they were young and what mistakes they’ve made in the past. Plus, you’re gaining priceless knowledge directly from the source.
So that’s how you get better at networking even if you’re not a good communicator and fear approaching new people.
What will you do first to meet someone and introduce yourself?
Sarah Williams encourages others to live positively by sharing her authentic experiences involving social anxiety. Her stories seek to inspire others to live life to the fullest and benefit from social interactions. Currently, she’s a happy lifestyle coach and shares her thoughts on self-development, relationships and dating at Wingman Magazine.