Is your fear of networking holding you back?

Any successful business needs new customers. If you’re too scared to talk to new people, it’s unlikely that you’ll grow as fast as you’d like to.

On an individual level, if you’re going to be successful in your career you’ll most likely need to develop and build new relationships with people.

Whether it’s going to a meetup, networking function, or meeting a potential new client the thought of it can make people anxious.

I often ask people, if you were given the choice:

“Would you rather go back to your desk and get on with your day job, or go out and talk to a total stranger?” 

Most admit they’d rather go back to their day job, in fact some would rather do pretty much anything instead of going and talking with someone new.

If you feel that, you’re far from alone.

READ: Networking for introverts

The thing is, many SME owners know that they must conquer this fear to help them achieve their ambitions.

Here are my top four tips to help you overcome your anxieties, so you can start meeting more people.

Four tips to help you hurdle your fears

1. Do you have to go it alone?

If you have a colleague, then take them along to new meetings. You can help each other out by sharing the talking and making approaches to new people.

Having defined roles means that while one of you is talking the other is really listening, and as we know – clients like being listened to.

If you’re a solopreneur then this may not be an option, although in some cases you can team up with complimentary businesses.

READ: 5 reasons why you should find a perfect match in business

2. Practice makes perfect

Or, it at least builds confidence. The key is to practice or rehearse meetings (yes, role-play – yikes!) in a safe environment.

This will give you confidence in the moment, in your actual meeting. Get a colleague, a friend or family member to play your client and rehearse your meeting.

3. Set “realistic” behavioural change targets

If talking to new people is hard for you, it probably isn’t the best idea to put too much pressure on yourself and decide that you will talk to 20 new people a week. Even five might seem unmanageable.

Maybe start with just one new person a week. Like anything you learn for the first time, the first stage is the hardest.

Think of it as like learning to ride a bike – initially when you’re up and riding it feels clunky and strange. Your steering might be a bit wobbly.  But if you keep peddling, with time and practice eventually it will feel natural.

From there it will become a habit so you’ll naturally move from one person a week, to five or more in no time.

4. Don’t overthink it, just do it

You should seek help from coaches or mentors, read books and blogs and access training if you can but invariably you learn new skills by using them.

Until you start putting any new skill into practice it is simply a waste of time and money. You probably won’t get it right every time, but you’ll learn the most from doing it.

Everyone learns from their mistakes, in fact the more you make the more successful you’re likely to be.

As an example, Simon Cowell, famously failed with one of his early record labels, being declared bankrupt, and forced to live with his parents. He’s now worth over $550 million, and working in the same industry.

 

There’s a lot more you can start doing after you’ve tackled the four steps above, but as I said, when making a change it is best to start with small steps.

After all, overcoming fear isn’t easy, but it is a process that is well worth doing.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”  – Nelson Mandela

 

Want to learn more about The Business Of Trust? Either Contact Ben Paul directly, or download a copy of his Sales Meeting Planner Template.