Networking can feel HARD! You can feel like the “odd duck.”
Walking into a room full of strangers often feels intimidating, even for the extroverts of the world. I know because I am that extrovert, and I’ve been there.
There’s a good reason for that feeling of stress and anxiety when you think about networking. We humans are not designed to live alone – we don’t have the built in tools like sharp fangs, dagger-like claws, or even muscles designed to let us run away at speeds to keep us alive.
As a result, we rely on community and large groups working together to ensure our safety.
In the animal kingdom, anything that doesn’t fit into a group in the wild attracts attention. Attracting attention of predators increases the risk to the group as a whole. That decreases the group’s chance of survival. This usually results in the ‘misfit’ being kicked out of the group.
How does this have any relevance to networking, you might ask?
Relying on a group for survival works when the group knows, likes, and trusts you – when you fit in. Walking into a new group full of people that don’t know you therefore becomes risky.
- What if they don’t like you?
- What if you can’t build connections and alliances and build trust?
- What if you stand out like a sore thumb and don’t fit in?
They could kick you out to fend for yourself – that’s dangerous – you could DIE!
At least that’s what your Instinct Brain thinks is true. Viewed through that perspective, networking triggers your survival brain. Being anxious about DYING seems pretty reasonable.
Thankfully, we don’t typically live in that level of survival mode in our day-to-day lives anymore, so our primitive survival brain is overreacting. But we still need to train our instinct brain to relax, let down their guard a bit, and let you network with ease…or at least without the fear of dying!
Retraining the alert level on your survival brain takes awareness, tools, and practice. The more aware you become, the faster you can calm the instinct response. The more consistently you apply the tools to calm your survival brain, the less it will be triggered by those types of situations.
So how do you do that?
There are multiple techniques that can be effective – I’ll share two with you:
- Having a ‘pep talk’ with your instinct brain before you leave for a networking event (and/or on the road to your destination) reminding yourself you have a lot to offer and are good at what you do; that you’ve been to networking events before and you were fine afterward… You’ve Got This!
- Taking a moment to breathe a few deep breaths before you go into a networking event, and then again before you introduce yourself, whether to the room or a single person.
Remember, you get to control how you react, not your Instinct Brain. Even when the networking event isn’t what you hoped, or the type of event doesn’t suit your style, it won’t kill you.
You are good at what you do, you are valuable, and you have something to contribute.
Networking is a great way to build professional relationships and a referral network.
Heck, sometimes it can even be FUN!
If you dread networking or feel like you are an imposter every time you go to a networking event, and you want help showing up confidently as you, be sure to join me for my Networking & Presence virtual workshop Tuesday, August 22nd at 10am PT (11am MT/12pm CT/1pm ET).
You can learn how to stand in your power so people want to connect with you!
Space is limited, so register soon: