In 2003 I was invited to my first networking event. It was a BNI event in Reading, UK. I had received an invitation from a client. I accepted because I did not want to let my client down but as soon as I accepted I regretted it.
I was full of fear of this unknown event, strange people, speaking in public. These are the top fears we have. In 1984 a New York Times survey on Social Anxiety placed death third in the list of people’s biggest fears. The top two responses were walking into a room full of strangers and speaking in public.
It may seem crazy but networking events are some of the scariest thing you can do for most of us. I know it was for me on that day.
So what did I do? I felt the fear and I did it anyway. I pushed myself into the room and I was greeted by a room full of big smiling faces. The people I met on that day went on to pass me loads of referrals. They also helped me conquer my fear of public speaking. Now an audience of 1000+ people does not phase me. Networking events, even new ones, are a joy and I am comfortable with the two biggest fears.
I am so glad I faced my fear that day and I know you will be too. Find an event that scares you and do it anyway; the results may just change your life!
Julian Lewis is an Executive Director with Business Networking International (BNI). He has over 10 years of practical experience in referral marketing and business networking for profit and pleasure. He regularly talks to audiences internationally about the power of referral networking. He is also a professional MC helping delegates get the most out of conferences and audiences enjoy awards ceremonies.