When you hear the word “network”, what does that mean to you? Do you suddenly get anxious and nervous? When you’re told to make yourself unique and stand out against the rest, do you suddenly forget everything about yourself and your business? You are not alone.
There are some people out there, that networking just doesn't come easily. Once upon a time, I was one of those people. Heck, I am still one of those people. Networking is a like that level of Candy Crush that you just can’t beat. There’s always room to improve.
When I was a little girl, I was TERRIFIED of public speaking. I would dread that one time of the year when they would make the class pick a topic and talk about it for 10 minutes. Every year of forcing myself out of my comfort zone was a small accomplishment.
Eventually, I learnt that talking about subjects that I was familiar with or passionate about made it so much easier, but how do you tell your 13 year old, shy self that, am I right? The more I grew as a person, the more comfortable I felt.
During my business course, they had me exploring myself further and of course, giving presentations left, right and centre. The nerves were still there, the “um’s” and “likes” still came out to give myself time gather my thoughts; but the teachers worked with everyone to crush those habits. The real game changer was in my second year when we were approached with the option of specializing and I found myself somehow drawn to Public Relations. It was shocking but exciting because I felt the most confident I had ever felt. I really felt like I was on the right path to finally finding my voice in the world. That year in PR, was nothing but the best year up to date and had me branching out of my comfort zone like never before. I was forced into doing many presentations, TV and radio interviews, network during social events and more. It was absolutely terrifying but so rewarding when you would hear feedback from outside companies.
From that point on, I never forgot where I started from and used any further fears/nerves as motivation to conquer. I made sure to do my research before anything else. I personalized my social media accounts to create my own personal brand. As it’s always easier when it’s just you behind your computer and if you need help describing yourself, ask your friends or family. Social media is an excellent stepping stone to networking because it allows you to know what you’re getting into beforehand so you can prepare your verbal content. I am by no means a networking master, but I have come a long way and feel much more confident than before. It is possible, friends!!
So my fellow readers, if there was any take away that I could leave you with it would be to never give up - cliche, I know. Push through those nerves and turn them into motivation and you may discover a passion for something you never knew you had.
You got this!!