A Simple Guide to Networking for the Socially AnxiousMar 20, 2023
While some people are in their element at networking events, others can feel quite the opposite. Not everyone feels comfortable in a social setting, and that's perfectly acceptable. However, there are some instances where social events, such as networking, cannot be avoided. In these cases, it's best to know what to do to protect your mental health while still achieving your networking goals.
Be Picky About the Networking Events You Attend
Networkers will typically choose to attend events that most interest them or which they think will be the most beneficial to their business. However, if you're nervous about networking, it's easy to find yourself caught up in the hype of the event and end up attending an event that you have no real interest in. If you find yourself in this situation, there is no harm in exiting the event early. The important factor is that you attend the networking events that you feel comfortable at, which will then make it easier to engage with others.
Practice What to Say
As someone who is easily socially anxious, it's hard to think of things to say at networking events. It's easy to fall back on the typical cliche lines about keeping it simple and conversing about things such as the weather. If you're in this situation, it can be helpful to practice what you're going to say before the actual event.
It's also helpful to prepare in advance and know what you want to ask others. In many cases, a simple conversation starter is all that's needed, such as, 'What do you do for work?' If the answer to this question is not obvious, you might ask, 'What industry are you involved in?' This is another helpful way to give you something to talk about and get the discussion flowing.
Remember, You're Not Alone
It's easy to feel as though you're the only one who doesn't know what you're doing at networking events. However, there will be others in attendance who may be just as nervous as you. If you are feeling uncomfortable, look around and see how others are behaving. You might notice a few people standing awkwardly on the edges of the room. This might put you at ease to know that you're not the only one who isn't entirely sure what to do at the event.
It's also important to remember that when you're at a networking event, you're not under pressure to sell or promote your business. There are plenty of reasons to attend a networking event that doesn't involve trying to close deals. Events are an excellent avenue to meet new people, share information and learn more about your industry. So make it your goal to enjoy yourself and have a good time. Taking the pressure off yourself may just be what you need to feel more at ease at the event.
Networking events are a great way to connect with others, share ideas and learn more about your industry. However, these events can also be challenging for people who are socially anxious. You can't change how you feel, but you can take steps to make yourself feel more comfortable before and during the event. By following the tips above, you'll find that networking events are much easier to navigate than you originally thought.
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