Just thinking about that word can make most people shudder with anxiety. This is meant to define the act of meeting people. It is a holistic concept linked to your skills to show up with charisma and put yourself out there in order to make new contacts that you are ultimately trying to use to your advantage. When put that bluntly, it’s understandable that networking makes people uncomfortable. But, that’s an important point: it makes everyone uncomfortable to a certain degree. Some are just more used to it than others. Like anything, your ability to perform in networking effectively depends on your level of exposure and practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. Add to that the fact that everybody naturally networks and, that in its purest form networking is just socializing and getting to meet new people that could become friends or partners, and it will slowly lose its power of intimidation.
The biggest challenges of networking always come with beginning. The first step is often the hardest and can prevent people from even trying in the first place.
But, just think, what was it that stopped you the last time you wanted to put yourself out there? Was it what others might think of you? You don’t think you’re good enough or worth the time? You believe you will fail? Then, ask yourself, “What does failure mean?” “What would happen if things did not turn out the way I expect them to?”
Things will never really turn out as expected, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s not reasonable to think that there is only one acceptable outcome in any given situation that if unmet makes all efforts pointless, a waste of time, a failure. Try to approach your next outings with curiousity instead of anxiety, and accept that any number of outcomes could be even better than any you could have possibly imagined!
We all have good and bad days, days we wish were better, and horrible days that could not seem any worse. This is also normal. It’s unfortunate, yes, but completely natural for everyone. All we can do is treat others with respect and dignity, like they may be going through a tough challenge, and do our best to ease the struggle and offer a helping hand that could make all the difference. Networking, then, is less about what others can give to you and more about what you can offer others. Humility, kindness, generosity, gratitude: these are the traits of the greatest networkers. So, yes, there is injustice, unfairness, and incredible misfortune in this world; but, there is also hope, love, faith, and kindness. Most things will remain outside of your control, but there are also countless measures you can take to improve things in a positive way on a daily basis, however slightly and however small the scale or influence. Fear, irrational perhaps, might be the only thing stopping you from putting yourself out there. All you have to do is show up.
For more inspiration, read from the Harvard Business Review here.