Often, people who I speak with will tell me know that one of their impediments to effective networking is their fear. Here are some common fears people will admit to having:
“What if people don’t like me?”
“What if I’m not good at it (networking)?”
“What if I can’t think of anything to say?”
Have you ever felt one of these? I know how you feel. Admittedly, I’ve felt each of these fears myself. But what I’ve found over time, thanks to some great encouragement from various people I have met along the way, is that fear is never outweighed by the potentially positive results. Without trivializing these very common and valid fears, I try to ask a person in return:
“So what if that fear turns out to be true? What’s the worst that could happen?”
And therein lies the best response to that fear you might feel when entering a new networking situation. With whatever anxiety or fear that ails you, just ask yourself, even if that fear is realized, what’s the worst that could happen? I know, I know, easier said than done. I know that my head can spin with possibilities about what COULD go wrong in any situation, but one of those interesting things about fear that is shown time and time again by experience, is that reality is never as bad as the fiction we can make up in our head. And often even if one of those fears above is realized, you know what? In the end, you’ll be okay. You’ll have a new experience to learn from and you’ll get better the next time. But more likely than not, that irrational fear you have will not come to fruition.
Don’t be your own worst enemy. Remind yourself of what makes you compelling, and ask yourself in any fearful networking situation, what’s the worst that can happen?