Networking for the socially anxious

 Photo Credit:  I  talian Bark

Photo Credit: Italian Bark

Hey folks, I have just come back from a Hills Biz Chicks casual catchup, come along to the next one if you're  a fellow boss babe operating a business in the area. It was my first time with the group so naturally, I felt the nerves but I would have to say that all of the ladies I met this morning were super lovely and despite feeling sweaty and experiencing butterflies in my stomach, I really enjoyed the conversations and the laughs. 

 

I thought this would make a great blog topic for today seeing as it's still fresh in my head. Hopefully for those of you that also suffer from social anxiety but at the same time run your own business, the advice below will come in handy in preparation for your next networking event.  As much as I'd like to hide behind my computer for the most part, there's certainly advantages to attending these - it's a great opportunity to make meaningful connections, build trust with others and create visibility for yourself and your business. Every time you attend an event, regardless of how painful it is or if you feel like you've made a complete ass of yourself afterwards - you learn and grow from the experience, which is why I push through my fear and make myself go. Just like any exercise, the more you do on a regular basis and the more persistent you are, your social and networking muscles will develop and you will feel stronger and confident with each and every event. Slay girl!

 

10 Networking Tips:

  1. Affirmations - before you go, give yourself a bit of a positive pep talk. I know it kind of seems silly and embarrassing to tell yourself that you're amazing and you're going to kill it but it really does help place your mindset in a positive space. Even if your conscious mind wants no bar of it, your subconscious mind is soaking all of that goodness in!
  2. Dress to impress - it might sound shallow but dressing in something that makes you feel professional, authentic and damn fine will increase your sense of confidence. 
  3. Get to the event early - when you're rushing, you're in a state of panic which is never great when you're already anxious about meeting people. Allow yourself plenty of time for getting there and finding a parking space or whatever else you need to do, so that when you walk in - you're as calm as a cucumber, or at least as you can be!
  4. Give yourself credit for attending - even if you don’t talk to anyone, at least you SHOWED UP and that still counts.
  5. Making one genuine connection far outweighs flitting from person to person and talking to them for a minute. It's all about the quality of the conversation rather than the quantity!! This also puts less pressure to talk to a million people which is draining for introverted boss babes. 
  6. Remember that it's not all about you and promoting your business - engage with the person you're talking to, ask questions, show your interest in who they are, listen and help out where you can. It's about creating a relationship and if you're lucky, you might end up with a new BFF. 
  7. If you’re feeling really anxious, it’s okay to be honest and let the other person know - you might find that you’re not actually alone in feeling the way you do. But try not to dwell on it too much, smile, take a breathe and if you need to excuse yourself for a little time out, do!
  8. Create and commit to memory, a short paragraph that details who you are and why you're in business. I stress the committing to memory part! When I'm really nervous, I tend to blank out but because I've said this paragraph to myself so many times, it usually does come to me in dribs and drabs, enough to introduce myself. Thanks gosh right?
  9. Humour tends to make everyone feel more relaxed - if you can make people laugh, it really does change the vibe for yourself and everyone else!
  10. The lucky last advice nugget is more for post-attendance - don't forget to celebrate the positives! For so many of us, we don't tend to do this, we only reflect back and critique ourselves harshly and negatively, which tends to discourage and damage our confidence. I don't mean for you to ignore the things that you feel you can clearly work on, but try and approach self-improvement in a kinder and more compassionate way. 

 

From the words of one of the fiercest women in business... 

In today's world you have to interact. You can't be some difficult, shy person who is not able to look somebody in the face, you have to present yourself, you have to know how to talk about your vision, your focus and what you believe in.

Anna Wintour

Those are just a few handy pieces of advice, I’m sure there are heaps more out there - I would love to know what helps you! Please feel free to share your thoughts and advice in the comments, it’s all about sharing and caring here.

love sheryl