4 Tips To Overcome "Networking Anxiety"
Updated: Apr 28
Networking is an important part of business. It helps you to expand your network and make connections with people who can help you grow professionally. However, some people find the process of networking overwhelming or even intimidating. If you don’t like to network, here are four tips that can help take the anxiety out of it.
Focus on Learning
Network events are great opportunities to learn something new. Instead of focusing on what you can get out of it, focus on what you can learn from other people in attendance. When conversations begin to feel awkward or uncomfortable, ask the person questions about their work and experiences – this will give you something else to talk about and it will also show that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say. You may find yourself learning a lot from these conversations and being able to apply those lessons later on in your career.
Identify Common Interests
A little preparation can go along way when it comes to building your network. Again, instead of just focusing on what you can or want to get out of an event or conversation, think in terms of common interests and ideally identify how your interests might align with the interests of the people you are networking with. Powerful networks are usually forged when there is an alignment towards high-value goals. There are many studies that show that people establish the most collaborative and long-lasting relationships when they work on projects that genuinely require each other’s contributions.
Think Broadly About What You Can Give
Networking is not just about taking; it is mainly about giving back and finding ways to add value for the people around you. Sometimes people don’t take full advantage of networking events because they feel like they don’t have much to contribute. Mostly this is just because we are so consumed in our day to day, which for a lot of business owners means dealing with problems. It can be hard to acknowledge the value we have to offer.
Before going into a networking event or meeting take a few minutes and think broadly about what skills or resources might be helpful for someone else at the event – maybe it’s introducing them to someone who could help them with their project or offering advice on a difficult problem they’re trying to solve. You have so much more to offer than what you are currently aware of.
One exercise that I have found powerful is to make a list of challenges you have overcome and lessons you have learned by overcoming those challenges. Getting present to those experiences will have you feel more confident and helps you get out of whatever the “challenge of the day” is.
Find a Higher Purpose
Sometimes, networking can seem like an aimless pursuit that just involves meeting as many people as possible without any real purpose behind it. However, if you focus on finding a higher purpose behind networking (such as helping others reach their goals or expanding your industry knowledge), then suddenly networking becomes much more meaningful and much less intimidating!
This higher purpose should be focused enough so that your conversations aren't too general but broad enough so that they don't become too specific either - this way, every conversation has potential for growth both professionally and personally!
Remember that you create your own narrative and context for what you are doing. So you might as well, create something that has you excited and curious.
Put It Into Action
Networking doesn't have to be an uncomfortable experience - if done right, it can actually be quite enjoyable! By following these four tips - focusing on learning, identifying common interests, thinking broadly about what you can give back and finding a higher purpose - anyone can master the art of networking without feeling anxious or overwhelmed by the process!
So next time you attend a networking event, try applying these principles into practice - you'll undoubtedly come away having made valuable connections that could benefit both your professional life and personal life down the road!
And of course, if you are looking for a community of growth-oriented business owners check out Network in Action!