By Faustine Curry, JD

You know you need to get out more and meet people. You know that meeting people is good for business, or good for your career, or just good in general.

But every time you decide you are going to go network you get the pesky jitters. The jitters get worse and worse as the event gets closer. Then, you decide networking is really not that important. You are doing fine. Maybe you will go next time.

Stop right there.

Networking can seem overwhelming. Walking into that event with people you don’t know can be scary. But, networking is the way of the professional world. Don’t let those annoying jitters get in the way of your professional rockstar! Here are 5 ways to get over pre-event jitters:

Set a time limit

Determine the amount of time you are going to stay at an event. Even if it is just 15 minutes, know that during that time, you are going to talk to other people and be a part of the event. Then when your time is up, you can make the decision whether or not you would like to stay or get the heck out.

Know you will be uncomfortable

Understand that the networking event is not going to be comfy like sitting around with your best buds on the couch. You are going to be uncomfortable, but that is ok. Step out of your comfort zone, and your career and professional life will thank you.

Have confident body language

Since you are going to be at a networking event, you should go ahead and talk to people. And, you hope people will want to talk to you. To make this easier, make sure your body language is inviting and friendly. Smile, look interested, uncross your arms, put your head and chest up, offer to shake hands.

Prepare your conversation opener

So, you want to talk to someone at the event. What are you going to say? Prepare a few lines before the event to open conversation with new connections. Try to be creative: What books do you read? What are your hobbies? Have you watched any good movies lately?

Practice, practice, practice

Networking doesn’t come naturally to most people. You have to work at it. While you are at work, take a walk around the office and say hello to people. Ask them how their afternoon is going. Practice your strong, assertive handshake. Practice walking around with your shoulders back and head up. The more you practice the easier networking will become.

Networking and connections are a huge key to professional success. Not only is it important for you to know your field of work, but it is important for people to know you and all of the skills that you have. Networking is the way to share your knowledge with the world. Kick those networking jitters out of here and go for it!

[Related: You Made the Connection. Now What? Tips on Building a Networking Relationship]

Faustine Curry is the Director of Marketing and Talent Management at Richworth Hospitality. She is also an adjunct professor at Texas A&M University, where she teaches Organizational Development and Change and Leadership Theory and Practices.

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