Conquering the FEAR of Networking

One of the main reasons connecting with new people at a ‘networking function’ is so tough for so many is FEAR. We are at times paralyzed by internal questions:

What will people think when I walk across a room and approach them to start a conversation? Will they think I am stupid, boring, pushy? How’s my breath?

It can be intimidating to approach someone and start a conversation. Ralph Waldo Emerson knew the way around this universal fear, but most of all he knew the way through it: “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”

Progress Agents (TM) committed to cracking the networking code get all the butterflies in their stomach to fly in formation and then soar above their comfort zone to a new, more expansive comfort zone. Don't make business networking more complicated than it needs to be. Develop strong networking skills so you can make connections without being rattled and intimidated. The more intimidated you are by the process, the less appealing you are in the process.

Emerson’s advice will help you overcome the fear of meeting new people. Use Nike’s formula and Just Do It! This is important stuff!! These new contacts may eventually become strategic partners, customers, employees, employers, or even best friends. Remember, most people enjoy offering assistance, information, and advice. No one is getting voted off the island at the end of the event.

Zig Ziglar often uses a popular acronym for fear. He says fear stands for: False Evidence Appearing Real. Right on, Zig. Resist the popular notion that networking is all fake sincerity and pushy behavior. That is just not so.

Networking is not about arm-twisting. It is not trying to get someone to do something that does not make sense for them to do. It is not scary old backslapping sales shenanigans. The simple fact is, most people are cool and want to meet you. You will not find Eeyore or Oscar the Grouch at most networking events.

I do need to mention, though, that no matter how cool, giving, and funny you are, there are going to be some folks who just don’t get it. They are not interested in anything or anybody, and are always bummed out.

My quick advice is: Move on. Do not let their flawed human thing rock you. Really, who can honestly say they enjoy talking to a negative blowhard? People like this expect the worst and that is exactly what they get. Somebody forgot to tell them that you create your own reality and if you expect bad stuff to happen, bad stuff happens.

You know the people I am talking about – the ones who look and act like they just ate a big steaming bowl of “ Catcher in the Rye.” They’re irritable, easily agitated, restless types who love a good argument. Chances are, they are not feeling too wonderful, either. They have no personal curb appeal.

They need a little Monty Python. They need to “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” Progress Agents have discovered that changing the way they look at things makes life easier in all aspects. Think of Oscar the Grouch types as just nice people who have not yet been taught how to cope with life’s stresses and challenging moments.

Progress Agents always set a good example for faultfinders to follow. We adopt the “live and help prosper” philosophy, and we are not quick to make judgments. It is vital to not take responsibility for these people or take their Holden Caulfield impression personally (Holden is the hilariously agitated protagonist and narrator of the JD Salinger novel, The Catcher in the Rye). They are probably bummed at the whole wide world. They may have been like this for most of their lives and they are probably not going to change just because you chatted with them for five to eight minutes at a business mixer.

But most people are cool, nice, enjoyable, and are there to connect. If they are not, they are making a far worse impression than you are. Shrug it off. Do not let these sad sacks curb your enthusiasm.

Have fun. Enjoy the process. Life is too short (for you and everyone else).

Crack the Networking CODE.

Be Progress (TM).

Recognized as a ‘Sales-and-networking guru’ by the Dallas Business Journal, Dean Lindsay is the founder of The Progress Agents LLC ( – a seminar company dedicated to empowering progress in sales, service, and workplace performance.

Dean's best selling book Cracking the Networking CODE: 4 Steps to Priceless Business Relationships has been endorsed by a who's who of business leaders and performance experts including Ken Blanchard - author of The One Minute Manager, Brian Tracy and Frank Bracken, the President and COO of Haggar Clothing Co.

Jay Conrad Levinson - the author of Guerrilla Marketing, thought so much of Cracking the Networking CODE that he wrote the book's foreword.

A cum laude graduate of the University of North Texas, Dean presently serves on the Executive Advisory Board for UNT’s Department of Marketing and Logistics. The Dallas Business Journal selected Mr. Lindsay as one of D-FW's Rising Stars Under Forty in The Business World Today in their yearly Forty Under 40 list.

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