As we continue this hot topic around NETWORKING, here’s another round of questions asked and now answered. Keep the questions coming! Whether it’s a dilemma about hiring or training , or you have a question about your career, I can help! E-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will answer them on the blog.
For many, networking comes naturally, but for others it’s a four-letter word. Over the next several weeks I will give answers to some of the most common questions I get asked about networking.
Q: When I meet new people I constantly worry about my appearance and how others perceive me, to the point where I am too busy worrying about how I look to focus on networking. What should I do?
A: Isn’t it funny how, when you’re standing in front of your bathroom mirror at home, you look great? You’re having a good hair day, your suit is free of wrinkles, and your eyes are sparkling with excitement. Then, after you sign in at the registration table and look for a friendly face, everything changes. Suddenly you are convinced the breeze made a mess of your hair as you walked from your car to the building. You think your once smooth suit resembles a Shar Pei’s coat, and the sparkle in your eyes has been replaced by a look of utter terror. What must everyone be thinking?
It’s easy to get caught up in your own self-doubts, and nerves can magnify any tiny fear into a colossal issue. I get it because I struggled with my weight for years and didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin. It was tempting to become a wallflower and hide in the nearest dark corner, but that is not the way to make a genuine connection with other professionals.
My first piece of advice is to use affirmations. Think of a negative thought that takes over your mind when you are networking, and then come up with a positive statement to counteract it. Either write the statement down a few times or repeat it out loud to yourself until you memorize it. Then, the next time that negative thought enters your mind, you can replace it with a positive affirmation. In essence, you are rewriting your inner script to reflect your strengths, not your perceived weaknesses.
My second piece of advice is to adopt the Boy Scouts’ motto: Be prepared! When you arrive at the event, make a stop at the restroom and check your reflection in the mirror. If the breeze did mess up your hair, carry a small comb to put those stray strands back in their places. If you’re worried that the onion-laced lunch you ate lingers on your breath, stash a roll of mints in your pocket or purse and pop one before you greet your peers. Think about it: If you have taken the time to check your teeth for spinach and you know it’s not there, you can’t worry about it. And if you’re not worried, you can enjoy networking and get a lot more from the experience.
Stay tuned to the blog for more answers to questions about networking. If you have a question you would like me to answer, send an e-mail to email@example.com.