Networking With Anxiety

By Chelsea Moran
Blog Content Contributor

Photo by Jarle Naustvik via Flickr.
Photo by Jarle Naustvik via Flickr.

When you’re in college and you’re being mentored, or your professor or guest speaker is giving advice, they all seem to say the same thing in the end; “Networking is key.” I don’t doubt this advice at all. In fact, knowing the right people has landed me some great opportunities. However, getting to know these people was not the easiest thing to do.

When you have anxiety, meeting new people is almost never appealing. An invitation to a party or an event where the only person you know is the host means standing awkwardly in a corner and nodding politely when someone makes eye contact. A gathering of professionals that you’re supposed to make connections with might result in an hour or two of torture, most likely because the pressure to make a good impression only adds to your anxiety level which is now jumping off the wall. But networking is key, so what can you do to successfully meet new people without making an awkward first impression?

    1. Dress to Impress

When you look good you feel good, as the saying goes. When you feel good, you’ll be more confident and less stressed about the situation.

    2. Make them come to you

Having anxiety makes you almost never want to be the first to approach somebody or be the one to start the conversation. In this case, have a unique quality that makes people approach you first. It can be an interesting clothing item, an odd nickname you may introduce yourself with or maybe even the type of drink you order. All of these things can be conversation starters that make people come up and ask about it. When they do, be prepared to hold a conversation.

     3. Get Involved

Joining a club, sorority or fraternity can force you into social circumstances that you can’t back out of. These social events may also be on a smaller scale, which can be an easier transition out of your comfort zone.

     4. Set Goals

Before attending a networking or social event, set a goal for yourself in advance. If you are aware that there are certain people who can help you advance your career then focus on those people. Many of us with anxiety have a “battery life,” meaning we have limited energy to invest in meeting new people. If this is you, use that energy wisely.

Living with anxiety does not have to be the downfall of your career. Practice makes perfect. If you work hard, you can move past the difficulty it may sometimes take to put yourself out there and be the life of the party or candidate everyone wants.

 

James Jordan II

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