There is a reason that buildings are required by law to have a maximum occupancy. Those reasons might not include the social anxiety that goes along with having a large crowd confined to a single room, but it probably should. Having to speak with people that you don't know can be terrifying, even if you are, by nature, an extrovert. But if you are one of the many people that are less than in your element at networking events, there's hope. Here are a few tips:
- Social anxiety comes in part from not having a clear understanding of your goals. Before attending a networking event, gain a clear understanding of what it is you want and how others can help you get to that point. By focusing of your passion, repeating your pitch to multiple people at networking events will become more bearable.
- Say you meet someone who you feel could be helpful in your career path. Suggest meeting for coffee at a later date. This takes away the sense of immediacy that comes with networking events and also allows a little leeway in your self-presentation.
- If you are feeling particularly anxious, allow the other person to talk. It is only natural that people like to talk about themselves. This takes some of the pressure off of you while causing others to perceive you as empathetic.
- Even if you are not as effective of a networker as you might like, remember that most people present themselves a lot better than they imagine they do. Be polite, be yourself and you'll be fine.
Written by Nyon Smith, Content Writer for the Dayton Hispanic Chamber