The how and why of career coaching series: Networking nerves gone

There is an incredible shift occurring in the world with more and more people keen to grow personally and professionally in ways that are meaningful to them. If you are seeking to develop your career, you'll need to be comfortable with networking. The thing is, I rarely meet anyone who says they enjoy networking. 


Years ago, when I worked for a recruitment company, part of the role was to attend events and network with strangers. I felt very strange in this type of environment in those early years and I felt I was not my authentic self; I felt I had to act as if I was a certain personality to “fit in” and have the “right type of conversation”, whatever that was!

I felt very uncomfortable. I had never been shown how networking works best nor what it really was about. Standing there in a room full of strangers who I would not normally choose to be with, I had to somehow find the courage to talk to them. I also made an assumption that everyone else was a natural at networking.

A decade or so of networking experience behind me, I am totally at ease with it. And I want you to be too. 

Why are so many people nervous about networking?

Networking is an activity you may have to engage in either internally in your organisation or externally with individuals or clients. It is often about meeting people for the first time. It may mean you have to talk about yourself – the fear of the well-honed “elevator pitch” often keeps people stuck from making the most of a networking session.

Networking has a bad name. People have an automatic reaction to it but not a good one. Yet, successful business people or client generators welcome the opportunities that networking enables. You have to stop overthinking it. Rather than being afraid or nervous or feeling you may be judged, you will thrive if you think of networking as having conversations. 

Networking, as I have experienced, does not have to be a painful or difficult activity.  Networking is simply “the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts”.

For me, I changed my attitude toward networking to make it work for me. So much so, I established my own networking group, something I never imagined was in my capacity (growth mindsets really work). 

Instead of assuming that I had nothing relevant to say to the other important people in the room, I see them as potential friends. I started to be grateful to have the opportunity to be with different people from whom I could potentially learn, or I could support through my work. 

The shift was in my thinking. I started to see our conversations as an exchange of information from which we could become friends or business collaborators. Instead of assuming I may be judged negatively, I imagine I can share information or guidance that will provide support or a step forward. 

By altering the mindset around networking, doors can open. I recommend attending networking events with an objective but one that includes your own desire to be friendly and to share information. Give rather than take. Offer value in your conversations and – be yourself. 

Being yourself, being human, actually attracts like-minded individuals. It’s certainly what I found.

As you progress in your career, and especially at senior levels, networking may be a very real part of your career strategy. Making connections provides you with insights and information not found elsewhere. What this means is that it gives you access to gems of information that may well support your career goals.

Here are my tips for you

  1. challenge any beliefs or assumptions you have about networking
  2. reframe your thoughts about networking to something more motivating for you
  3. notice how an existing belief about networking has been useful – or not
  4. reflect on meeting someone new that you liked in the past – how did that go?
  5. understand that it is ok to be nervous going into a networking session – everyone there has felt exactly the same before
  6. think in advance about what conversations you would like to have at your next networking session – be prepared so you have a few topics to talk about

Good luck!

And, if you are interested in honing those networking skills further, coaching can help you move forward. My personal style of coaching also helps to build confidence in all aspects of work and life. Get in touch today.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Stanmore HA7 & London W1A
Written by Anita Gohil-Thorp, Promoting self-leadership to career goals & life confidence
Stanmore HA7 & London W1A

Anita is a highly rated coach, mentor and trainer. She provides transformational mind-set growth and wellness through powerful coaching. She presents on coaching for leaders, goals, stress management, mental resilience, time management and more. Readers of this piece will be gifted a 10% discount on Anita's fees up to 31 May 2022.

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