If Networking Makes You Anxious, Try This - Deepstash
If Networking Makes You Anxious, Try This

If Networking Makes You Anxious, Try This

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Social anxiety at a networking event

Social anxiety at a networking event

Many individuals experience social anxiety, but a 2020 study showed that younger people are more affected by it.

  • Symptoms show up in different ways, such as an intense fear of interacting or talking to strangers, being judged by others, humiliating yourself, or catastrophising.
  • Other common signs are blushing, sweating, trembling, feeling lightheaded or nauseous, or forgetting what to say.

While the root causes and symptoms may vary, there are tools that can help you to make your networking event feel more approachable.


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Visualize how things will unfold

Visualize how things will unfold

Visualise what will happen the night before. Your brain will think you've done it before and help to ease feelings of anxiety.

  • Close your eyes and go through the entire process: Imagine yourself waking up in the morning, picking out what to wear, eating breakfast and driving to the place. Imagine how it would feel to enter the room.
  • Now imagine potential interactions: approaching someone standing alone and saying hello, grabbing a coffee and making a friendly comment to a peer. Imaging your warmth and enthusiasm supersede your anxiety.


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Write a script in advance

Create prompts for what you’d like to discuss or share at the networking event, including questions you’d feel comfortable asking.

This can help reduce your anxiety quite a bit because you already know what you will say. Stand in front of a mirror and practice saying your script aloud. Pay attention to what you look like.


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Fuel up properly

A lack of vitamin D or magnesium tend to make you feel more anxious.

Eating vitamin D and magnesium-rich foods a few days in advance can be helpful to buffer the stress.

Grab some fortified milk, yogurt, and Brazil nuts before an event. They contain selenium which helps manage anxiety, depression, and tiredness.

Ensure to eat before networking to prevent showing up with a growling stomach. Also avoid sampling cuisine you've never had before, incase it doesn't agree with you.


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Step outside your role

Step outside your role

When you enter the room, remind yourself that you're more than your job title. You may feel less constricted around what to discuss.

  • Talk about hobbies. “What would you be up to if you weren’t at this thing?”; “Did you figure out today’s Wordle?”
  • Be an advocate. When you’re feeling anxious, tell yourself that you’re not here for yourself. Try reframing the event. For example, you are here to make connections that benefit someone you know or to learn more about (x). When we help other people, it makes us feel empowered and more in control of the situation.


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Lower the stakes

Try to identify events that feel like they’d be less stressful for you. For example, events focused on a particular person or group remove you from the centre of attention.

  • Be an audience member. If the thought of a ballroom of strangers is overwhelming, consider attending a lecture or panel discussion.
  • Find your people. It could mean standing on the periphery, where introverts are more likely to stand.
  • Embrace the 10-minute rule.  Tell yourself, ‘I’m going to talk to this person for 10 minutes.’


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Spending a large amount of time with someone literally causes you to pick up their habits. Choose your friends wisely.

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