One of the consistent struggles shared by people who I coach about successful networking is the fear that they will fail. The question I often ask in return is: “Fear of failing at what?” It is sometimes difficult to identify that fear. But over time I find the “fears” people have fall into the following types:
Fear of failure: not accomplishing what you come to accomplish;
Fear of losing: losing some pride, embarrassment;
Fear of rejection: making a bad impression, not being liked.
So what are the ways we can address these fears and get past them and get better at networking?
Getting over the fear: One thing you need to keep in mind is that rejection, loss, failure – these things will happen. You just will not click with someone whether a potential sales prospect, a potential employer or potential mentor. You are going to be rejected at some point. The better perspective to have is to know you will be rejected and try to understand the reasons behind it. This can help you refine your approach and lessen your moments of rejection. The more you are rejected, the more you will be numb to it and the less fear of it you will have. Even if you have to ask someone, “why didn’t it work?” do it. You can learn a lot.
But how else can you lessen the fear? Control as much as you can. Show credibility in the way you present yourself, verbally and nonverbally. Whether it means making sure you smile in each interaction or make a mental note to say hello and compliment each person you meet, you can’t control how other people will respond to you, but you can control how you present yourself. So dress sharply and think of your conversation talking points and goals in your networking endeavors, and you can help get over the fear.