Do You Have a Fear of Networking?


by Maria Marsala

Fear is a necessary part of life. Can you imagine what would have happened if our ancestors weren't afraid of fire? Or cliffs? We might not be here!

Our fears do protect us; however, they can also hurt us by keep us stuck. What's interesting about your networking fears is that they're not just about networking. They're the same fears that are part of your life - always. How do you overcome fears? Don't bother trying. Instead - identify them, accept them, and create solutions that will turn the fears into an exciting adventure. As Susan Jeffers says, "Feel the fear and do it anyway."

Most of us are able to discover enough benefits, enough "whys" to make networking worthwhile for us. Below is a list of common fears that coaches hear from their clients. Place a check mark near YOUR fears (or add your own).

  1. I'll draw a blank and not know what to say.
  2. I'm not _(fill in the blank)_ (smart enough, successful enough, etc.)
  3. I'm too _(fill in the blank)_ (fat, skinny, ugly, etc.)
  4. It's one thing to do introductions, but how do I maintain the conversation, keep it lively?
  5. I'm afraid I'll sound pushy or alienate people.
  6. I feel phony and inauthentic.
  7. My feet hurt when I stand in heels too long.
  8. I'll say something to "stick my foot in my mouth."
  9. It's impossible to break into groups already formed.
  10. I'm an introvert.
  11. People drain me.
  12. I won't have enough stamina to be "on" for the whole event.
  13. Networking is "boring."
  14. Why go? It will be SOS (Same Old Stuff).
  15. Strangers will think I'm manipulating them when they discover I'm looking for business.
  16. It scares the living daylights out of me!

Description of Networking
To interact or engage in informal communication with others for mutual assistance or support.*
*The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved

Networking - we all know it's important. In fact, a recent Carnegie study showed that 85% of a person's career success depends upon his or her ability to effectively relate to and interact with other people. And yet the thought of networking sends chills down people's spines. Networking is about creating relationships - you need to genuinely connect with the person to whom you're talking. "The truth is you can get more new clients faster by networking than any other marketing method." C J Haden, Author of Get More Clients Now

Relationship Building
If you don't like the term "networking," call it relationship building-creating valuable relationships for you and your business. It's about listening and THEN sharing your expertise-and contacts too. Just like any relationship, a good one is not created in just one meeting; think of networking as something you're going to do-over time-to build long-term strategic partnerships. You don't "do" networking; you enjoy it as a part of who you are.

Everyone has networked and sold "things" for others. How
many of these have you done?

-- sold Girl Scout cookies or candy as a child,
-- sold raffle tickets,
-- hosted a Tupperware or Mary Kay party,
-- sold wrapping paper, candy cake for your children.

Additionally, every person knows at least 100 people, and each of them knows 100 people. So when you meet one person, you're really meeting everyone they know too. People like to do business with people they know and trust. Whether you've moved to a new city, just started a business, or want to grow your existing business, building a community with lots of connections is essential for your personal and business evolution. Remember that networking isn't about instant gratification-it's about long-term success. Relationships-business and personal-take time to develop.

Home business owners have an added reason to network. If you don't get out of the house, isolation and the long-term effects of isolation-depression-may set in. Still not convinced about the rewards of networking? Many associations offer group rates to members on health and liability insurance, etc.

© 1999-2004 Maria Marsala. Since 1998, she has been frequently featured and quoted on the Internet, radio, in magazines and newspaper articles globally. Maria teaches home and main street business owners how to grow their businesses using the blue-chip strategies of large corporations. Join our online newsletter, "Elevating Your Business" now.

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