LIM hosts many networking opportunities throughout the year, but finding the courage to attend can be difficult. I had the opportunity to attend the annual Dream Dinner, an exclusive networking event. The day of, I was very close to backing out. I suffer from severe social anxiety, which makes connecting with new people challenging and intimidating.
When I asked the Office of Counseling & Accessibility Services for tips, they responded:
“Skipping in-person events will likely lead to greater anxiety about future events. An important aspect of overcoming anxiety and building confidence is to face the feared situation. Although this may be the opposite of what you feel inclined to do, each time you challenge yourself it will become easier.”
Facing fears is easier said than done, but once I ignored my negative thoughts and went—I couldn’t really back out anyway—the outcome wasn’t as bad as I thought.
Tips and tricks to prepare
If it’s your first time going to a networking event, bring a friend. That’s what I did, and it made things easier. If you can’t find a friend to come with you, find me in the EECM office and I’ll go with you! Let’s face these fears together!
The Office of Counseling and Accessibility Services also shared a great tip:
“Prepare a few questions relevant to the field or the individuals you will be meeting.”
I’ve drafted some questions—including “small talk”—that you can try out next time you find yourself networking:
- Are you reading anything at the moment?
- What is your favorite pastime?
- Where are you from?
- What made you decide on this career path?
And finally, my best advice: Try not to think of networking as a means to an end; think of it as making a new friend.