In business, networking is necessary to make new connections and develop your presence in any industry. For many, networking may just feel like an annoying necessity, but for those with anxiety, it can be nerve-wracking. As someone who suffers from social anxiety, networking is a very daunting and uncomfortable experience.
I constantly worry about what I’m going to say and how I’m going to appear. My anxiety affects me physically and mentally in various ways throughout the night. My face gets red, my hands get sweaty, my heart beats rapidly, and sometimes I stumble over my words. My anxious thoughts race as I over analyze every conversation and agonize over every small detail. Instead of enjoying myself, I often spend the night watching the clock out of the corner of my eye, waiting for the soonest opportunity to leave.
Throughout my experience, I’ve learned a few tricks to cope that make networking more manageable.
1. Go in with purpose
Before a networking event, do a little research to see who will be attending. Pick out a few people you’d like to meet and prepare some questions to keep in your back pocket. Walking into a networking event with purpose will make you feel more prepared. I’m not one for small talk, so if I have a plan to connect with a few people, I’ll leave feeling accomplished.
2. Wear something you feel confident in
Pick out an outfit that makes you feel good and choose something you can enjoy wearing for a few hours. If networking is already uncomfortable, make sure you can at least feel relaxed your clothes. Wearing something you can feel confident in will make you feel more at ease.
3. Practice a power-pose
Stand up straight and put your hands on your hips with your chest out and chin up. Do this in front of the mirror before you leave to give yourself a little boost. Practicing a power-pose will naturally raise your confidence level. If you start to feel overwhelmed, take a moment to step aside and power-pose to retain your composure.
4. Leave it at the door
When you leave a networking event, ditch everything that happened at the door. If you’re like me, I’ll spend all night analyzing every little detail of every conversation, worrying I said or did something wrong. Move forward with your night and don’t look back.
5. Reward yourself
When you’ve made it through, do something for yourself that feels good. Stop
for ice cream on the way home or pick up a movie to help you unwind. Celebrate
the fact that you made it through a networking event perfectly intact, and
hopefully you enjoyed yourself a little too.