Call Anxiety’s Bluff

Barry Ray is an attorney and motivational speaker in Dayton, Ohio and play the card game with confidence

It happens every time. As you attempt to approach a prospective contact, your palms start to sweat and you feel dizzy. You quickly retreat to the bathroom, where you splash cold water on your face and vow to make up for this failed attempt at the next event–again.

It’s no secret that networking can help put you on the fast track to career or business success. But fear of communication with others–especially in a group gathering–places you at a distinct disadvantage for getting ahead.

“Networking connections are the keys to personal and professional prosperity,” says Executive Coach Anthony J.W. Benson, co-founder of injoi Productions, a Minneapolis-based public relations and consulting firm. And while making connections can be a scary proposition for some, “doing so will create boundless opportunities for oneself and others,” he says.

Benson offers the following tips to help you overcome networking anxiety:

Confront your anxiety. “Acknowledge your discomfort with networking,” says Benson. Then take small steps to overcome that anxiety: unplanned networking opportunities–in elevators, at after-work clubs, on the links or tennis courts–are a good way to build your confidence for larger, structured venues.

Develop your communication skills. Contrary to popular perception, the best networkers are better at listening than talking. So practice being engaging rather than talkative.

Believe that what you bring to the table is important. There’s no need to be intimidated by potential contacts who are further along in their careers than you. By speaking with them, you offer your own knowledge and unique perspective–you have plenty to give.

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