Overcoming Networking Fears and Benefits of Human Connection
Last week I was invited by the lovely Caroline Shafar from Ward Hadaway’s to join their R&R’ Retox & Reconnect networking event.
Before you shut down and turn away from the page at the fear and loathing of networking, let’s unpack some truths about why this form of human connection is a massive part of any career.
One of the enormous overhangs I am experiencing since the pandemic is people have gotten out of the habit of connecting in person and networking – both in the office and with new connections in business.
People have got too comfy using zoom meetings to connect, which has a far-reaching detrimental effect on people’s well-being, skills, and communication ability.
It’s critical that whatever stage you’re at in your career, you master or remaster the skill of mixing and connecting with people in person and get back into the habit of leaving the house to be with colleagues and connect with new people.
Here’s why –
Networking is a crucial aspect of personal and professional growth. Feeling anxious or intimidated about meeting new people and making connections is common. This blog will discuss how to overcome your fears of networking, the benefits of networking, and key ways to maximise networking opportunities.
Overcoming Your Fears
• Reframe your mindset: Instead of viewing networking as a chore or obligation, consider it an opportunity to meet new people and expand your network.
• Preparation: Preparation is vital to feeling confident and reducing anxiety. Research the event or individuals you’ll be meeting, and have a plan for how you’ll introduce yourself and engage in conversation.
• Practice: The more you network, the more comfortable and confident you’ll become. Start with small networking events and work your way up to larger ones.
• Focus on others: The best way to overcome your fears is to focus on others rather than yourself. Ask questions and listen actively to the person you’re speaking with; make the conversation feel less like a sales pitch and more like a genuine interaction.
• Follow-Up: After the event, follow up with any individuals you met and express your appreciation for the conversation, helping to build a lasting relationship.
• Attend Relevant Events: Attend events that align with your personal or professional goals, increasing your chances of meeting individuals who can help you achieve your goals.
• Be Consistent: Networking takes time and effort, so your approach must be consistent. Attend events regularly, follow up with individuals, and build long-term relationships.
Why Networking –
• Career Opportunities: Networking allows you to meet new people who may have career opportunities or be able to refer you to someone who does.
• Professional Development: Networking allows you to learn from others, gain new insights, and develop your skills and knowledge.
• Personal Growth: Networking can help you expand your network, increase self-confidence, and improve your interpersonal skills.
• Building Relationships: Networking is an effective way to build relationships with individuals with similar interests, values, and goals.
• Business Opportunities: Networking can lead to new business opportunities, including partnerships, collaborations, and even new clients.
We risk losing essential networking skills if we don’t make it an important piece of our career. Human connection is a necessary aspect of personal and professional growth. By overcoming your fears, understanding the benefits, and maximising opportunities, you can expand your network and human connections and achieve your goals. So, go ahead, attend that next networking event, and start building relationships today.