Network Event Anxiety: becoming effective at networking events may require that you step outside of your comfort zone. Meeting new people, especially for introverts is never easy. At times, extroverts feel awkward when networking. Feeling uncertain in new situations is common, perhaps even normal.
Preparation for Overcoming Network Event Anxiety
Talking with strangers is easy for me. However, I have had times when I show up at an event and felt anxious about approaching people I don’t know. These experiences have shown me the importance of preparing for the things I want to accomplish and the people I want to meet.
Furthermore, if networking events are difficult for you, the things I do may help you become more confident and more successful when meeting people by bringing the tools and developing the skills for overcoming network-event anxiety
Where to Start Upon Arrival
To gain confidence, I start with people I think I would enjoy meeting. If I am attending a trade show, I may go by a booth where I know the products and the people. Sometimes meeting with current clients put a face with a voice. Sometimes people I know will introduce me to the people who are standing next to them. Close clients or friends are often quick to introduce me to people other people in their group.
There is a flow in meeting people. As I meet more people, my confidence grows. I get into the mental flow of meeting new people.
Prepare Materials When Event Networking
Taking the correct tools is one of the most important thing I can do for meeting success of overcoming network event anxiety. I do take my smartphone. But I try not to use it. The whole purpose of event networking is meeting people in person. I do like to work with a pen and paper. I take a leather-bound portfolio with a legal pad. The binder makes it easy for me to take notes without bending over a table.
I carry a one-inch-thick stack of business cards. Also, I keep my cards in one pocket and the cards of the people I meet in a second pocket. When I leave an event with many new contacts, I want to put them into my expanding database of contacts. The cards make building this database possible. For people who do not have cards, I make notes on their contact information on my legal pad.
If people are handing out brochures, I take brochures that contain names and contact information for people I want in my database. Often, especially at trade shows, the event planners provide the name of the companies that are in attendance. The brochures become lists of companies I may want to prospect in the future.
Additionally, this brochure helps me find my way around and create lists of additional people to contact as the event moves along. Therefore, I can expand on my plan to meet even more people.
List Contacts in Advance of Event Networking
I make a list of people I specifically want to meet. By making a list of people I want to meet, I can reduce the stress on me through preparation for seeing the people. I can also do a better job of seeing the people I need to see.
If there is a brochure of attendees, I may go down early or even the day before the event to get a copy of the list before the event. The night before the events, I expand on my plans of whom to meet and in what order I meet them.
Weeks leading up to the event, I call or email people to make plans for meeting them. I do not always make an appointment with them. Networking events are free flowing. However, I can let them know of my interest in seeing them.
For the appointments that I do schedule, I get people’s phone number to call do that I can call them if plans change for either them or me.
Things to Discuss When Event Networking
Remember some basics.
- If speaking with new people makes you uncomfortable, prepare things to say and questions to ask.
- Show an interest in what the other person is saying. The interest you take in the other person reduces your self-consciousness.
- Ask the person questions about points that interest you.
- Congratulate the person upon successes.
- Listen with empathy.
- Connect with what the person is saying from their point of view. Ask questions about how they reached conclusions or solved problems.
The Positive Side of Network-Event Anxiety
Anxiety is a signal that tells us to expect things. If we use that signal as a message to prepare for our meetings, we can do a better job of getting ready and our meetings will go better. Moreover, I anxiety will go down.