Does Anxiety Strike When It's Time to Network? (3 Tricks To Network With Confidence)

Networking events are rarely occasions that people look forward to, no matter how important they are. Networking with confidence can bring future success.
Medically Reviewed by
Dr Hamilton

“Wow, I can’t wait to walk into that room full of people I don’t know!”

How many times have you heard that line? Probably never.

It’s perfectly natural to feel some angst and hesitation when attending a meeting, event, conference, or even a social gathering where there’s a good chance you’ll only know a few (if any) of the people there. But attending these events and making new friends and contacts doesn’t have to be an awkward or unpleasant experience.

To help you, I’m sharing three of my favorite, field-tested tips that can help make meeting people and starting conversations – even in intimidating circumstances - more tolerable and possibly even more interesting, fruitful, and fun. And the really good new? They work equally well for introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts.

1. Take the time to set your intentions.

Setting your intentions, which involves choosing in advance how you intend to experience the setting or event, is exceedingly powerful. Why? Because it helps you calibrate a powerful part of your brain: your Reticular Activating System. This powerful “filter” or “radar” helps you decide (both consciously and subconsciously) what you are going to focus on, see, recognize, and experience.

Write out a list of at least three to five intentions the day of the event. Or simply say them to yourself while on your way there. Great examples of powerful intentions include: “I intend to relax and enjoy myself.” “I intend to be friendly and enjoy good conversation with interesting people.” “I intend to gather information and resources that will help me be more successful with an upcoming project.” “I intend to expand my professional network.” Watch what happens as a result of your proactive and conscious decision-making!

2. Build confidence with positive self talk.

I’ve often asked my successful and seemingly fearless friends how they manage to get through challenging social situations. The trick they share most often is the use of positive self-talk. One colleague insists that saying, “I feel great” as she walks into an event reduces her jitters. Another says she calms her networking doubts and anxieties with statements such as, “It’s a good thing I know how to start fascinating conversations with just about anybody!” or “It’s just a room full of interesting people: my favorite thing!” A very pragmatic friend has this mantra: “I am attracting and connecting with people who can help move me forward in my projects and business.”

What kind of intention- and confidence-building statements can you create that will help you navigate professional and social events with a greater assurance ̶ and a more confident and positive attitude?

3. Be someone’s hero.

Remember how it feels to be in a room full of people – and yet feel all alone? Look for someone who is standing or sitting alone and appears to be open to a conversation. Go over to that person, offer a smile and a friendly handshake, introduce yourself, and get a conversation going. You might begin with a question such as, “What drew you to this event?” or “Is this your first time to attend one of these events?” or “What keeps you busy when you’re not attending events like this one?”

Deciding in advance what you want to experience, putting positive self-talk to work, and going out of your way to make someone else feel more valued and included are three simple, but effective ways to make your next networking opportunity not just easier to endure, but also more energizing, enjoyable, and impactful.

This post originally appeared on by Patti DeNucci. It is published here with the author's consent.

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