One aspect of being in the world of business is making connections. Also known as networking, this is a skill that comes naturally to some, not so much to others. For those people who are extroverted and social, networking is another fun opportunity to meet and greet others in their industry and make potential lifelong friends along the way. For others, it might as well be a visit to the dentist. The good news is that there are ways of making this modern-day ritual less painful.
One way to ease yourself into networking is to start from within your own organization. Some of the best friendships and relationships start when people share a common interest by working together. In addition, practicing on colleagues will not only be a good rehearsal for the outside world, but you never know where the future will take you and how you might benefit from a connection somewhere down the line. The world is a very small place, especially within specific industries. The culture in most offices usually encourages some off-time social fun. Some places have employee happy hours or scavenger hunts, or even trivia nights. If these are events that you normally avoid like the plague, then practice the mindfulness technique called opposite action. The idea is to force yourself to do the exact opposite of what your fear or anxiety wants you to do. Overcoming fear is like working a muscle. The more you do it the easier it becomes. As far as attending external social events, the same general methodology applies in order to overcome fear and anxiety. Success also builds on success, so you will start gaining confidence with every positive experience you have.
Another way to ease yourself into networking is by reacquainting yourself with old friends. This might seem less intimidating since there is already a level of familiarity among you. It’s another way to transition into meeting outsiders. You also never know where connections may lead, so the more the merrier when it comes to collecting likes and follow requests on social media accounts.
When you do attend seminars or conferences, take the time to arrive early and/or stay late so you have time to mingle. This is when the real connections happen because during speeches there isn’t any interaction among attendees.