To network or not to network, that is the question…

Often times, attending networking events is not easy for many people. When you are invited to a networking event, the first feeling that may come to your mind is anxiety.

You are not alone. This is a common feeling for many professionals. You are putting yourself in a place where you may not know anyone. You will be in situations where you will be outside of your comfort zone.

The good news is that it is possible to get over the fear of networking. And once you do, you will be happy to attend such events because of the many benefits that come along with them.  This article touches upon some of the perks of participating in networking events.

You will increase your professional network

Networking will allow you to expand your professional network. As a professional at any stage, you don’t know who you will meet at an event. Meeting people from various industries can be beneficial, as well as exciting! You could meet someone who will provide you with great insight and advice, or even someone that could offer you a great opportunity. Take advantage of this by learning as much as you can from the group of people you have a chance to talk to. You may even meet a potential mentor.

Your confidence will increase significantly

For those of you who feel uncomfortable with networking, attending more events will increase your confidence. You will soon become more comfortable with the idea of introducing yourself to others, and conversing with various professionals.  The nerves will eventually go away. As you do this more often, you will become a pro. You may surprise yourself and be great at it!

You will be surrounded by positivity

“You are who you surround yourself with,” is an old, but true saying. You have the opportunity to meet the most hard-working and driven people at these networking events. This may give you the dose of motivation you are seeking.  After meeting such inspiring individuals, you may feel encouraged to chase your own dreams. By continuously surrounding yourself with like-minded professionals, you will eventually change your mindset towards being a continuous learner. You will be in the right environment to form meaningful relationships with people similar to yourself, setting yourself up for success.

You have the opportunity to meet people you would normally never meet

Networking provides a great opportunity to meet people who you would normally never have the opportunity to connect with during the normal course of your day. You will be surrounded by people who may not be the same age as you, or may have a different professional background. They may be able to offer you unique perspectives, advice and tips. Networking gives you the opportunity to learn from others and to grow as a professional.

You will eventually get over the fear of networking

For those of you who feel that networking is challenging, there is a solution. The more you attend these events, the more comfortable and at ease you will feel.  Just be yourself!

Start off by being bold and scheduling events that you would be interested in attending.  If it makes you feel more supported, take a friend with you. Once you feel more comfortable, challenge yourself to attending an event alone. This will allow you to steer away from your safety net of staying with the people that you know. You will have a greater opportunity to mingle with more people and create more connections. At the end, you will be super proud of yourself and you will leave with the satisfaction of the great connections that you have made.  Although it may seem tough, you will be happy you did it!

The secret to networking is to go in with an open mind and a smile. Approach it with an attitude of learning versus gaining. And, don’t forget to have fun with it!

Good luck and happy networking.

Written by: Dula Vigneswaran