Cures For The Very Common Networking Fears

Everyone experiences bouts of networking anxiety! Rather than avoiding a handshake or resorting to only interacting with your smartphone when you’re at a conference, use these 8 tips to face your networking fears head-on.

For a variety of reasons, I recently decided to fly across the country for a day to attend a startup conference. There were only a handful of people I knew personally who would be in attendance. These included the conference organizers (who, with any luck I’d get my 30 seconds of thanks for the invite with before I dashed back to the airport for the red-eye back home) and a startup founder I met over a year ago at an event for in New York City.

Bold and fearless networking? Not so fast. Everyone has networking anxieties — including me. If someone says they don’t, I’d say they are not telling the whole truth — as we all think about wonder about the other attendees, whether an event will meet our expectations, what to say or if we’ll spill a drink or if we’ll be introduced to someone mid-bite into an hors d’oeuvre. The networking fear brain chatter is simply louder and scarier for many people. What if I don’t know anyone, how will I join a conversation? Will the conversation focus on sports or politics or the weather? What if I get stuck in the corner with a complete bore all evening? And that brain chatter paralyzes those people from engaging in conversation (or even attending events, including the right events) is often endless (and as professional success depends on getting out and meeting people).

Instead of skipping the event or constantly sticking your nose in your smartphone when someone tries to make eye-contact with you, a few tips to address common networking fears…