How to overcome the fear of meeting and connecting with people?
I love meeting people. I love interacting with them, learning about them and their stories and generally staying in touch.. I am what many call - a natural networker. What comes easy to me though, can be a dreaded activity to some.
In my experience as a coach, I’ve come across several professionals who want to network but step back as they feel it is a difficult process. Also it is an assumption that introverts cannot network. However, Investing in professional relationships - networking, is considered an important skill of the future.
If you want more people to know about you and your work; then networking with the right group of people is very important.
Gone are the days when you upload your resume on some website and you get called. 65 to 80% jobs today are filled through networking. Startups and small businesses also depend on networking to get closer to their target market and to get their clients.
Networking doesn't necessarily mean attending events with large groups of people. While mixers and meet-ups are important, networking in the true sense is connecting with people. That means, you can network while waiting in the supermarket counter, or in a restaurant or when you travel. Networking today happens online as well via apps such as Lunchclub, CoffeeMug etc.
"Networking is a lot like nutrition and fitness: we know what to do, the hard part is making it a top priority." -- Herminia Ibarra
So to make networking part of your life with a little less stress, here are a few tips -
1 - Make friends not clients
Don’t interact or connect with people with an intention to sell them something. It will stress you out and make others uncomfortable as well. Always keep your intention only to make friends and grow the relationship. Remember, networking is like farming, you have to toil the land, sow the seed and shower it with enough water for it to give you the fruit. So, create an intention to just make friends.
2 - Cultivate the Giving Mindset
Zig Ziglar said "You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want" This is also called the abundance mindset, where you are always thinking about helping others get what they want. When you help your network get what they want, you will be able to achieve what you want.
That’s the law of attraction for you!
Also putting others' needs in focus will help reduce stress on meeting your own needs.
3 - Practice telling your story
The stress of networking is mostly on how to interact and engage. What you are an expert at, is telling your personal story. And since you have experienced it, it will be easy for you to share right?
Stories have a unique power to connect with people. So share a little bit about yourself – how you became interested in your profession, who inspired you etc.
4 - Meet with curiosity
Too stumped to talk about your story? Be curious and try asking them questions.
Basic questions such as tell me about yourself, what is your biggest lesson learned etc can help you break that ice. In fact asking questions can be your networking super power and you'll realise how effortless it really is.
5 - Divide and rule
If large groups of people intimidate you, then try meeting smaller groups or even one at a time.
More often than not, it’s the one-on-one conversations that turn into potential business opportunities. Most of the online networking apps work on this principle only.
Remember proper networking is a gradual process of making genuine connections and cultivating long lasting and mutually beneficial relationships. These relationships are built on mutual trust. So be patient and nurture your network
Identify networking events that are specific to your industry and make it a point to attend these events regularly. Participating in these events will help you build connections, identify new trends in your industry, help you hire the right talent and build visibility for your business.
If you have any further questions to me or if you would like to know what kind of networking forum suits you, do drop me a note; would love to help you with it.
Good luck! :)
Aparna is a behavioural coach with a passion to support people who want to help themselves. She is an avid YouTube and publishes weekly videos. For more information and to reach out to her click here