What do you do when you know you need to get out there – networking, contacting people, asking for help, meeting people – but you’re too scared? It can be a real issue when you’re trying to change career but are overwhelmed at the thought of all the people you’re going to have to contact.
I had a client who struggled with networking, Andrea. She didn’t have loads of friends, she found socialising tricky, and her confidence was low. She was well aware that her mindset could be quite negative.
Andrea’s dream was to work for a start-up, and write articles about entrepreneurship on the side. The thought of having to get in touch with people who she knew could help with her career change, was crippling her.
She’d have to apply for jobs. She could try to speak to people in the start-up industry who could give her some pointers or advise her about opportunities, maybe ask them for a phone chat or to meet for a coffee. In terms of the articles, she needed people to interview. She would have to make the first move in getting them involved.
Building up to it
Andrea knew that being more comfortable contacting people would be a massive step for her. It was important to her being able to move forwards.
So together we agreed that building up to networking was going to be challenging. But it would help both in progressing career wise and in building her confidence.
Breaking it down
But Andrea had lots of excuses! There was always a reason why she couldn’t do something, always a barrier. So we broke it down. What would doing each task actually look like, how could she prepare? Could she prepare questions, set a time limit on how long the call or coffee would be? Maybe it would help to create a list of contacts and tick them off one by one? We had a think about what was the worst that would happen, was it someone saying ‘no’? Could she cope with that?
Once we’d broken things down into small, easy steps, and prepared for the worst case scenario, Andrea felt calmer about networking. Slowly she followed the steps we’d set out, and things became easier for her. She realised how great it felt having a positive interaction, and saw that people responded well to her.
Do it your way
Andrea is coming on in leaps and bounds. She goes for things and doesn’t feel the same fear around contacting people for help. She made it into the start- up world by starting her own online travel advisory company on the side of her day-to-day job. She’s also completed various courses including and incubator training programme to learn more about the industry she’s interested in.
Networking doesn’t have to be roaming around ‘events’ desperately finding people to talk to. It can be about focusing on what you need, slowly and quietly doing things in your own way. And getting the results you need.
If you’d like to some coaching sessions with me, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or here on LinkedIn.