Public speaking is the enemy, group job interviews are the devil, and networking events are officially your worst nightmare. Social anxiety affects millions of individuals across the nation, so although you’d rather be alone, you’re not alone when it comes to statistics. Like any disorder, some cases are more serious than others. Recently, Peter Rosenberg from Hot 97’s Ebro In The Morning admit that he suffers from a case of social anxiety, and this guy is one of the biggest personalities on radio.
Regardless of the industry you desire to work in, networking events come with the territory. How can you attend these events, make important connections, and not come off as a complete dweeb? Well, this past week I was put to the ultimate test when I attended a networking event on my own and left with a crap load of business cards. As a self-proclaimed introvert that learned how to calm the mild tremor I get from nervousness, and challenged myself to face my fears of communicating with large audiences, here are some tips that help me get through 3 hours of networking:
1. Be Prepared – Prior to the event, do research and gain a clear understanding of exactly what you are walking yourself into. Not only will that be a good starting point for conversations with others, you want to be able to market yourself correctly. This will avoid awkward moments of confusion for you and may make you feel more involved/comfortable at the event.
2. Play the Corner – Find the closest corner in room where people are still gathered (that way you won’t look weird) and scan the room. Scanning when you first arrive will give you a minute to feel the vibe, check out any familiar or important faces, you can google some names if you’ve forgotten them, and listen in on conversations around you before diving it.
3. Open Bar Is Your Friend – 90% of networking events have cocktails, champagne, wine etc. to loosen you up a bit. If you’re a drinker, grab a drink when you first arrive to keep yourself occupied in the moment. Obviously, you don’t want to overdo it and get so hammered that you are embarrassing yourself and misrepresenting your brand, but conversation flows easier with a little liquid courage.
4. Get In Where You Fit In – If you spot someone you know, get your conversation started there. Chances are that person will introduce you to someone they know or work with, and so on and so forth. You’ll find that these people are there for the same reason you are and getting in the mix will only be beneficial for you. These people might end up accompanying you to the next networking event since they’re clearly into that type of thing!
5. Make It Quick– If your anxiety is as bad as you say it is, let’s make the best out of the event as quick as possible and get the hell out there! No one says you have to stay for the entire time, so it may be in your best interest to arrive fashionably late or leave before the let out. That will relieve the pressure of unnecessarily long conversations and you will still feel like you came, you saw, and you conquered. Make sure you leave a lasting impression on everyone you meet during the event. If you’ve gone out of your way to attend the soiree you might as well make it count!
6. Lastly, Major Key! (Khaled’s Voice) – It’s important to remember you wouldn’t have been invited if you didn’t belong there. Take pride in that and be confident in the fact that you got the opportunity. Also, try not to be intimidated by the people that are more successful than you in the room, whether that be celebrities, executives, the CEO of your dream company, etc. because they can only be an asset to the progression of your career. Instead, beware of those seeking to take your spot. Those are the ones you need to outshine in the room.
Share with us how you’ve overcame your fear of networking, public speaking, and social settings in the comments below or on Twitter/IG @BallerAlert.