3 Networking Tips –When You’re Feeling Under the Umbrella of Lacking Confidence
By Barb Girson
Networking is a critical skill whether you are building a business or your career. The key is to engage others to build a mutually beneficial relationship. Yet even though we know it is important, there are challenges going on inside our heads that hold us back.
During a recent speaking engagement, the networking challenge that surfaced was how to feel as confident and important as your network partners. Stories were shared of professionals who knew they needed to network. Yet they attended an event, tried to circulate, then after 45 minutes of no meaningful action, they slithered out. Several related challenges surfaced about what causes the ill-at-ease feelings when networking, which came under the umbrella of lack of confidence, being overly concerned about what others think of them, and feeling inferior.
Someone in the audience opened up and shared that she felt uncomfortable when she was at a meeting, an event or a conference and believed that the majority of the people in the room had more…
More what? You fill in the blank…
• More experience
• More money
• More prestige
• More credentials
• More letters of distinction after their names
• More degrees or education…
• More followers
• More friends
• More whatever
We all have people, circumstances or events that can potentially make us feel less than.
When the narrative is going down this path, we need to ask ourselves, “Where is the focus? Is it on us or is it on the other person?”
Here are three ways to deal with these challenges:
1. Gain control of your inner dialogue. Remind yourself: It is not about us! (Or at least it is rarely about us.) Have a quick way to stop the running tape by saying a short word, phrase or mantra. Wear something that helps you focus on your most confident best self, perhaps a special ring or bracelet.
2. Get out of our own head. Focus on the other person. What do we bring to the relationship?
No matter how much success, prestige, or accolades someone has accumulated, they will always appreciate a new contact that brings value. The value can be in the form of genuine help with a current pursuit or project, assistance in reaching their next goal, acknowledging their wisdom, finding a new resource, or seeing a situation with fresh eyes.
We can all offer support to someone else even if they have more of something than we do. As I shared this perspective with the audience member, I noticed a physical change in her presence, which is exactly my next point.
3. Assume your most powerful pose. Today, social psychologist and Harvard Professor Amy Cuddy, talks about how our bodies can change our minds. Her Ted Talk is worth watching and had some 18,124,483 total views when I last checked. Her work is frequently cited in articles because she has proven the pose you portray effects how you feel.
The self-declared, self-conscious junior professional suddenly put her shoulders back, held her head a little higher and smiled with an air of confidence. She knew she still had something to offer even around the more seasoned, senior executives she had cited in her networking experience.
Which now illustrates this point. When you want to tap into your inner confidence while networking, remember to assume the picture and pose of confidence: smile, put your shoulders back and hold your head high. My mom taught me there would always be someone who had more…however, that would not take away from what I had and what I had to give others. She also drilled into me, as a short and awkward pre-teen: put your shoulders back, hold your head up and smile. It will do amazing things for your confidence. And my mom was not a formally trained social psychologist still she had powerful confidence-building advice.
So remember, to gain control of your inner narrative, focus on the other person and assume your power pose to diminish or eradicate feeling under the umbrella and drenched with lack of confidence. You will nurture your network to help you build your business or your career.