Last Friday, I had to attend a continuing legal education conference in Massachusetts. One of the topics of discussion was networking. And based on audience feedback, the presenter decided to talk briefly about how to network if you hate networking, and my ears perked up.
Networking is not just important, but sometimes it can be downright necessary for some professions. Yet not all of us are natural extroverts. My social anxiety often has me drifting along the periphery, perhaps using my phone as a prop to avoid human interaction. Judging by some of the comments submitted by some of the other attendees at this conference on Friday, I am not the only one.
So the presenter shared the best bit of advice she had received, which was to find those people on the outside of the networking event and go up to them. Chances are that they are on the outside because they too hate networking, and just like that you have common ground to build off of. And before you know it you are networking.
Battling social anxiety doesn’t have to exclude you from these types of events. It just means that the classic advice for such events might not apply to you. Instead, you might have to find a strategy that works for you.
And if you do succeed in networking using these strategies, just remember to wash your hands (for more on that see yesterday’s post).