5 Steps to Embrace Networking and Not Let Fear Hold You Back
Most people understand the value of networking. All the experts say it’s the best path to finding a great job or other business opportunities. But what happens if a person doesn’t like to network, or, more specifically, he or she is afraid of networking?
LinkedIn defines networking as “Connecting people to make them more productive and successful, as well as gaining access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help you be great at what you do.” Simply, when you are connected, getting what you want and getting ahead in your career is easier and faster. However, if you do not like to network, know that you are not alone. It is not easy to walk into a room full of strangers. It is hard to contact people you’ve never met to ask for help. However, going through the ups and downs in your career by yourself is even harder.
The good news is that in today’s interconnected world we have many different ways of networking with people. You can use email or the telephone. You can use social networking for its speed and ability to meet people you may have not met otherwise. Live interaction with people is important, too, because they build connections and long-term relationships.
If networking is not for you, then it’s not for you. Live by what you believe in, accept your beliefs, and move on. However, if you know that not reaching out to others is holding you back and keeping you from a fulfilling career, then it’s time to face and conquer your networking demons. How do you embrace networking as an important business tool and not let fear hold you back? Follow these simple steps.
1. Accept Your Networking Fears
It’s OK to be afraid. Until you can accept your fear for what it is, fear, it won’t go away. Sometimes when we are afraid, we tell ourselves that we are not. We try to talk our way out of our fear and pretend it isn’t real or it shouldn’t be there. Fear acceptance does not work this way. Instead, let yourself feel your fear and don’t criticize or judge your feelings. Remind yourself that fear is just as normal as other emotions. You wouldn’t give yourself a hard time for being happy, so give the same courtesy to your fears.
2. Identify Your Networking Fears
What are you actually afraid of? Is it every aspect of networking or just characteristics? Break your fears into pieces. For example, are you afraid of walking into a room by yourself? Are you uncomfortable introducing yourself? Are you nervous about feeling rejected once you make your request or ask for help? Once you know exactly what gives you butterflies in your stomach, then you can learn how to overcome it.
3. Choose to Let Your Networking Fears Go
There is a choice to make here. Some people hold onto their fears because they serve a purpose. For example, as long as you don’t ask for help, you don’t have to feel weak or judged. As long as people believe you are fine, then you don’t have to face how bad you feel about your situation. Choose to let go of your fears, so they don’t have power over you any longer. Once your fears are out in the open, they can’t hurt you anymore.
4. Create Your Networking Plan
Some people fear networking because they don’t have a plan. If they go to a networking meeting, they don’t know whom they want to meet or what they want to say, or they haven’t created a list of networking meetings to attend. Others go onto social networking sites and don’t know why they are there. Some make plans with friends and former colleagues and don’t create an agenda, so the meetings don’t go anywhere. Every networking situation or opportunity needs thought, attention, and a focus before you go. If you write down your plan with the steps for achievement, networking with be much easier for you.
5. Have Fun Networking
Meeting new people can be fun. Catching up with former colleagues can be satisfying. Before you needed help, you may have been a person who kept to yourself. Your career and life was busy, but maybe something was missing. The missing piece was connections with others. No matter how far you go in the world, you’ll enjoy it more with great people you can count on and talk to.