How I Got Over My Fear Of Networking



How I Got Over My Fear of Networking

This weekend I did a talk at the TOTS/FOODIES/HIBS100 Blogcamp. I turned up on my own, met loads of new people and stood in front of a room of people to talk about one of my biggest passions in life, blogging.

Blogcamp Elizabeth and Mel

During my talk with Mel – the projector broke so we had to freestyle it.

Not so long ago I could never had imagined I would be in that position.

Just four years ago I attended one of the very first Blogcamp’s down in London. It was my first ever blogging event and despite being super enthusiastic about going to learn, I turned up and freaked out. I had the fear. It was a disaster. In fact, I was so disappointed in myself that I wrote a blog post about it at the time (see here for my Fear of Networking).

Back then, I completely froze up. I was so nervous I felt sick. I barely spoke to anyone or made eye contact with them. I spent one of the breaks on the phone to the boyf in order to avoid the awkwardness of not speaking to anyone. I felt like a total outsider, and a complete failure for not talking to anyone (well, except for two people who came up to me to say hi).

Since then, a LOT has changed. I have changed.

After blogging about my experience, speaking to other people and reading up on the subject a lot, I came to terms with the realisation that I am in fact an introvert. That coupled with several health setbacks over the years, my confidence was at an all-time low.

But enough was enough. I knew I was never going to move forward either in my career or personal development if I avoided going to meet new people.

I had to make a concerted effort. I had to get over the fear of networking.

So I how did overcome THE FEAR and learn how to network?

1. I  learned to understand how my energy levels work

By learning more about introversion and my need to restore my energy through solitude I am able to prepare myself ahead of time if I know I will be meeting lots of people.

2. I learned to be kind to myself

Along with step 1 I had to stop punishing myself when I failed to approach people or effectively network at events.

3. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone

Despite finding small talk pretty excruciating (give me one-to-one deep conversations any day!) I kept making myself do it.

4. I chose the word ‘Connect’ as my word of the year

I am making a concerted effort to reach out to people and connect with them. Whether it is strangers that I admire, folks I’d like to work with, or people I’ve lost touch with.

5. I made a list of every positive outcome that came from meeting new people

By doing this I realised that the best opportunities in my life came from stepping out of my comfort zone and chatting to new people.

So why was Blogcamp significant?

For me, the first Blogcamp was the moment I realised I was in a pretty bad way with my fear of networking. Being able to reach out to the folks behind the conference to arrange my talk to then walking into an event of 120 people I didn’t know and speaking in front of a bunch of them, was a HUGE accomplishment for me. It’s rather poetic that I have made this journey and was able to realise my personal progress by comparing my experiences across 4 years at the same event.

And that is why I wanted to share my little story with you.

I do still find networking a little awkward. But I think that is perfectly natural for many of us.

However, I am able to look forward to future encounters and connections, knowing that there is more awesomeness awaiting.

Thanks again to everyone I met at Blogcamp last weekend and especially those who came to listen to me speak. It was an honour to share my insights with you.

See you next time!

---

SUBSCRIBE TO FUTURE POSTS

10 Comments

  1. JuggleMum, Nadine Hill
    28 April 2015 / 6:22 pm

    Wow Elizabeth, I wouldn’t have known that this was your past experience at all, you were very confident, assured and articulate on Saturday! Well done, you’ve obviously worked hard on yourself to be able to present the exterior you did. I recognise the work as I’ve done it myself in the opposite manner- learning to reign myself in, not talk over people in my excitement and learning to listen. This is something I practice daily. I hear you about working with your energy levels- I’m like this too- I absolutely love to connect with people and a room full of bloggers is like the best party in the world to me, but I also need solitude afterwards to recharge and rest. It was good meeting you and I hope we get the chance to reconnect again. X

    • 28 April 2015 / 8:29 pm

      Thanks Nadine! It’s interesting to hear that you’ve been on a similar path, albeit from the opposite perspective. Was great to meet you too and hopefully we’ll meet again soon.
      x

  2. 29 April 2015 / 9:52 am

    I am also an introvert and it’s refreshing to read about someone else who has similar fears about networking. Even working in marketing I avoid it like the plague and I know this is to my professional and blogging detriment.

    I would actually be really happy to stand up and speak in front of an audience (and would really love that opportunity again some time, it’s been a while), but as for going up to people and introducing myself and making friends – completely rubbish at that. I think it’s something to do with the preparation; I can sort out a presentation before-hand and will be confident in what I’m saying, but when it comes to small talk in a noisy room I would much rather shy away and find a cup of tea and a comfy seat.

    I’ve set up a bit of a blogger meet-up event (http://www.outdoorbloggers.co.uk) and this will give me the perfect opportunity to find some confidence amongst like minded people. I hope I can bring myself to come out of my tent!

    • 29 April 2015 / 11:46 am

      Thanks for the comment Zoe!

      I think organising your own blogger meet-up is probably one of the best ways to push yourself out of your comfort zone, because whether you like it or not you will have to speak to new people.

      Wish I could make it to your event, hope it goes well!

  3. Hannah
    1 May 2015 / 11:29 am

    My friend Lucy was at Blogcamp but I didn’t know about it until people started tweeting about it on the train on the way there. One day I might actually find out about these blogger events before/after they happen!

    • 19 June 2015 / 10:03 am

      Hope you do make it to a blogging event soon Hannah 🙂

  4. 1 May 2015 / 3:22 pm

    Isn’t it funny, I would never have guessed you were nervous, you seemed fantastically friendly and professional and that’s all I noticed! As my best friend likes to say, just goes to show you shouldn’t compare your inside with someone else’s outside.

    I’m pleased you found the day useful and also that you shared your advice and experience with the other bloggers attending, it’s been a really useful session based on the feedback!

    • 19 June 2015 / 10:04 am

      Thanks Sally, that’s really reassuring to hear. I’m glad I’m coming across in the right way. 😀

  5. 1 May 2015 / 8:25 pm

    I wish I was better at networking, I really enjoy talking to people but I am SO shy 🙁

    Maria xxx

    • 19 June 2015 / 10:05 am

      Me too, I’m so shy. But sometimes just being there makes the difference. You can usually find someone who likes chatting.
      x

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *