In today’s rapidly changing world, building and sustaining authentic relationships is more crucial than ever. Whether through traditional or social networking, creating a powerful circle of influence can help you succeed. But for many of us, networking can be paralyzing. For more than a decade, I’ve helped people learn how to network smarter. However, would it surprise you to learn that this former IT recruiter and experienced career coach was once paralyzed by her own fear of networking?
I now dedicate my career to helping others face their own networking fears so they too can build and sustain powerful circles of influence. In my experience, I’ve learned there are five common barriers to networking success – Neglect, Afraid, Knowledge, Engage and Dedicate (NAKED). At the heart of it, NAKED Networking is about allowing yourself to be vulnerable while opening yourself to taking new calculated risks. Learning from failure, tapping into courage, and leveraging different strategies can help you shift from avoiding networking opportunities to embracing them. Whether you choose a social media platform such as LinkedIn or meet people at traditional face-to-face events, you must first adopt the right mindset to experience success.
5 NAKED Networking Fears and Solutions
FEAR: I’ve neglected my network
SOLUTION: It’s never too late to pick networking back up. Take small steps each day to keep connection activity momentum. Create new habits by looking for opportunities to be a contribution to others.
FEAR: I’m afraid of failure
SOLUTION: Failure and rejection can be part of the networking process. Push through fear by focusing on your best possible outcome. Accept that there will be times when others reject your request to exchange information and keep moving forward.
FEAR: I don’t know where to start
SOLUTION: Create a solid 3-step plan of action. First, make a plan (i.e., who do you want to connect with and why). Second, pick the right channel to connect (i.e., LinkedIn, phone call or personal visit). Third, grow and enrich your network by following up with connections (i.e., don’t be a fair weather friend).
FEAR: I don’t know how to meet new people
SOLUTION: Networking means developing mutually beneficial relationships. When meeting new contacts, ask open-ended questions to spark conversation. Ask them who or what would be a good prospect for their business and share potential referrals or ways you can help.
FEAR: No time for networking
SOLUTION: Prioritize a minimum of 15 minutes per day to connect with others. Tools like LinkedIn can be powerful platforms for introductions and invitations to exchange information.
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