(OK, I just made that up. It’s not a real word. But it should be!)
Fear is a normal part of life. Everyone’s afraid of something. And that’s okay. But if your fears come between you and your dreams, you could find yourself stuck.
Networking is an essential part of building a business, but a surprising number of people are uncomfortable with it… even terrified!
If you’re a victim of schmoozaphobia, you may have said to yourself…
- I’m too old/fat/ugly. No one will want to talk to me.
- I’m not very articulate. What if I space out or say the wrong thing and sound dumb?
- I’m not smart enough/successful enough. These people intimidate me.
- People are already in cliques. They won’t let me in. I’ll feel like an intruder.
- I’m too shy/introverted to talk to people I don’t know. Besides, large groups of people make me nervous.
- I don’t want to be pushy. People will think I’m trying to sell them something, and they won’t like me.
- These events are useless. They’re full of phony, superficial people who will force their business cards on me.
In other words, you’re probably afraid of talking to strangers, or afraid of making a fool of yourself, or both. But as an entrepreneur, you need to face that fear and work through it. Networking is such an important part of your business life that it warrants stepping out of your comfort zone. Remember, most people are there for the same reason you are – to meet new people and form mutually beneficial long-term relationships. Think of them as “friends you haven’t met yet” – who may or may not turn into clients, referrals, or joint venture partners later.
Here’s why it’s worth the effort to step out of your comfort zone and learn to enjoy networking:
- The more people you tell about your business, the greater the chance that one of them will become a client or refer you to someone else who will.
- It’s good practice for talking to people about what you do. This will come in handy when the stakes are higher, like when you’re meeting potential clients.
- Well-connected people are more successful when it comes to getting referrals and finding new business opportunities.
- Networking gives you the opportunity to learn about other people’s businesses and how you might be able to help each other in the future.
- There is no such thing as having too many friends!
Still need convincing? A recent Carnegie study showed that 85% of a person’s career success depends upon his or her ability to effectively relate to and interact with other people.
In next week’s blog, I’ll tell you about 15 effective strategies to help you conquer schmoozaphobia and learn to love networking!
We gain strength and courage and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… We must do that which we think we cannot. – Eleanor Roosevelt