Overcoming the Barriers to Networking

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You receive an invite to a networking event, do you immediately think what a wonderful opportunity or do you go under sufferance on the basis that one ought to do it. Often it can cause serious nervousness in people and they go under sufferance or even duck the event completely. In order to successfully network it is important to challenge some deeply held beliefs that can act as serious barriers.

Having an aggressive approach to socialising is impolite

Some of us will have grown up with the belief that it is not nice to use people for personal gain. We have grown up believing we should be unobtrusive, not ask direct questions and draw little attention to ourselves. In order to counter this, acknowledge the positive reasons why the event will be useful. For example it could be to develop business, enable you to make new friends, or to support a good cause. This should help eliminate the feelings of tackiness and enable you to just enjoy the event.

We should be properly introduced

Often it is just not possible to find people to introduce you and to avoid being a wallflower at the side of the room you need to design your own introduction. Think about this before the event and even practice in front of a mirror if that helps. Devise just a few introductory words that are up beat and will tell people who you are and encourage them to be interested in you.

Dont talk to strangers

These words have been instilled in us since we were small children. Subconsciously this is what we can be telling ourselves when confronted by a room of people we do not know. One way to overcome this barrier is to identify what we have in common with others at the event. Could you all be supporters of the same cause, in a similar profession, alumni of a particular organisation, parents of similar aged children etc? Once you have identified the common bond you are no longer approaching strangers but can start the conversation based on this common bond.

Fear of rejection

This is far more imagined than real. Very few people will be openly hostile or rude and if they are simply move on. Do not take it personally as there may be hundreds of reasons for that persons rudeness and probably have nothing to do with you. To help overcome this fear focus on the people you are talking to and try to make them feel welcomed and included which will in turn help you feel more comfortable.

Small talk makes you uncomfortable

If you read the newspaper or listen to the news you will be prepared for small talk. Alternatively look at special interest magazine linked to the event you are going to as that will give you a quick overview

Lastly but most importantly remember that most people at the event will also be nervous so enjoy the people you meet and have fun.

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