Do you get exhausted even thinking about networking?
You are not alone!
Even an evening at a networking event can leave you tired, overwhelmed, and trying to sort out the fruits of your efforts. Successful networking almost always entails follow-up, future projects, and more.
Now, think about longer-term networking opportunities. They may last for days and involve travel (great networking en route!), seminars, conferences, trainings, and pure socialization. You are learning, adapting, and communicating non-stop. Your brain gets a marathon workout!
Even if you LOVE it, networking can drain your energy and leave you spent…
All the new people (and crowds!)
So much new stimuli
Problems to solve
Time management and organization
Not used to networking (all day long and into the night)
Nervousness and anxiety – naturally shy or self conscious
Maintain your energy level, enthusiasm, and smile while you are networking.
Planning has the highest return on investment than any other practice. If you are going to network, why not do it in a way that insures a better result? It doesn’t matter if you are going to a conference or on a cruise – you might as well make that networking time worth your time by being prepared!
What would you like to accomplish socially or professionally at your networking opportunity? Figure out your best-case scenario and write it down.
If you go into the situation with a clear plan regarding your goal, you will have higher quality interactions. You will know right away if someone matches up with your business and/or social needs. If not, you can ask for referrals that will lead you in the right direction.
Having a plan can also help diffuse the stress of not wanting to network or socialize. That inner conflict can drain an enormous amount of your energy. By creating a plan and a purpose, you ignite enthusiasm within yourself as you focus on your desired outcome.
MOST importantly, have a plan for keeping subtle notes and details about your conversations with people. The names of spouses, kids, and pets are good details to remember. Key information from stories that they tell can be great talking points later. Upcoming events (from business travel to graduations to a garden harvest) are excellent things to ask about when you contact them later. Remembering details will set you apart and show that you were really listening.
Make a post-networking plan
If you are successful networking or socializing, you will have some follow up to do. Plan for that ahead of time and know that there may be a few days of follow-up calls, emails, and other information to exchange with your new contacts. This is where those connections are solidified so make sure you allow enough time for it!
You might also plan for a special treat afterward. After engaging in intense social activity you will deserve some quality alone time to recuperate (or something even better). Make taking that time for yourself part of your post-networking plan so that you can look forward to it. If it is a good enough treat, it will get you through those times when you feel too tired to network.
Know thyself. You may already know how long you will last in a networking situation before you need to take an “alone break.” Plan accordingly. Be sure to take a few minutes to be alone and gather your thoughts before lunch, breakout sessions, and other highly interactive activities. That way, you will engage in them with energy and enthusiasm.
If possible, try to bring some of your routine with you. For example, I always bring my pillow with me when I travel.
Try to go to sleep and wake up at about the same time you do at home. Bring some familiar snacks with you so that you can keep your blood sugar levels normal (healthy snacking is very important when your brain is active). Having reminders of your normal routine will help you to stay even keel.
No sugar or starchy foods. Yes, I mean it. Yes, I KNOW it can be hard sometimes (tap on it!). In the end, you will be so glad that you did. You will have more stamina. You will think more quickly. You will learn more information, retain it more effectively, and have easier access to it.
Here’s your bright spot: if you do drink, cutting out sugar gives you a little leeway to have a drink or two while you are socializing. Yes, alcohol is processed like sugar but the bar can be a hotbed of networking opportunities that you may not want to miss. Opt for low sugar beverages that make you want to take very tiny sips – like a scotch and water.
Stay hydrated! For every alcoholic beverage, for every cup of coffee have a glass of water. This will also ensure that you don’t sit in your chair for too long at a conference.
Communication skills are learnable (I teach them!). There are many resources across all media formats that can help you learn communication and rapport skills. Like all skills, learning to communicate takes practice. Networking and socializing will give you the opportunity to try out different styles and approaches to communication so that you can develop a style that works for you.
If you have done all of the above – the plan, the treat, diet, routine, and learning about communication – and still hold some anxiety about networking, tap. Tapping activates your parasympathetic nervous system and counteracts the “fight or flight” response. It will calm your nerves and embolden you to approach networking with more enthusiasm and courage.
Start by thinking of the last time you networked or socialized and felt exhausted afterward. You can also think of an upcoming networking or socializing opportunity. Imagine it in your mind as vividly as possible.
Tap this protocol out loud.
On your Karate Chop (KC) Point:
Even though I want to stay home, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.
Even though networking bores me, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.
Even though networking scares me a little bit, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.
Top of your head (TH): I don’t want to network.
Eye Brow (EB): I don’t want to socialize.
Outside of the Eye (OE): I feel awkward in groups of people.
Under Eye (UE): I never say the right things.
Under Nose (UN): I’m unsure of myself.
Chin (CH): I feel out of place.
Collarbone (CB): How can I approach people?
KC: It’s scary!
TH: And small talk just sucks.
EB: It seems so trivial and fake.
OE: I feel fake when I’m networking.
UE: I judge other people as fake when they try to “small talk” with me.
UN: It is so contrived.
CH: It makes me nervous.
CB: And I get self conscious.
KC: If I am judging them, they must be judging me, too.
TH: They ask me questions about myself.
EB: I’m very private. I don’t like to talk about me.
OE: And I’m supposed to ask them the same questions.
UE: The truth is, I’m not so sure I want to know about them.
UN: Yet I know that growing my network will help me grow my career and my social life.
CH: I wish I wanted to know about them.
CB: I wish I were more curious about other people.
KC: There have been times in the past when I was very curious about other people.
TH: In fact, I have some great connections.
EB: I have developed some wonderful relationships.
OE: It has been a good experience.
UE: I know that ONE good connection – ONE good relationship can be the golden key.
UN: The golden key that opens a treasure chest of opportunity.
CH: That one person can help me to land a career-making gig.
CB: That one person can introduce me to my perfect match.
KC: That one person could turn out to be my biggest ally or cheerleader.
TH: That one person could turn into a best friend.
EB: True, that ONE person may not always be in the room…but they might be.
OE: There may be more than one in the room.
UE: Now I’m curious!
UN: I wonder if there will be one in the room at my next event?
CH: I wonder if I already have that person in my contacts?
CB: I choose to let my curiosity guide my communication.
KC: I choose to find that person with the golden key to a treasure chest full of opportunity for me.
Take a deep breath.
Networking and socializing can be incredibly rewarding and fun. The trick is to do it often and make an effort to improve every time.
If you have deeper concerns with shyness or introversion such that you are unable to comfortably network or socialize, contact me now. Left unchecked, it can hinder both your career and your social life. You can learn to embrace social situations and perform well in them.
PS – Please share this post with your friends and check out the video to tap along with me.