Do you get overwhelmed (and sometimes a bit depressed) at networking events?
Does networking overwhelm you? It’s a question that came up during my last post and it’s an important issue a lot of women face.
To explain, let’s do an experiment. This will only take a minute, so hang in here with me.
Imagine you’re going to a get-together by yourself. You walk through the front door of your friend’s office (the only person you know) and there is a room full of people you’ve never met. They are all lovely looking people, no biker gangs or mobsters, talking with each other and having a good time.
You walk up to 3 ladies chatting.
What do you do next? Do you…
A) Introduce yourself, strike up a conversation, and make 3 new awesome friends.
B) Wait politely until you feel like there is a long enough break in the conversation for you to say hello, say “hello”, and then go back to listening again.
C) You would never do that. You’d go up to the friend you know, the host, say hello and casually mention that you don’t know anybody here.
If you answered A, great! You probably never get exhausted after hanging out with people.
But, if you answered B or C, then there’s a good chance you’ve felt overwhelmed, exhausted, and sometimes feel a bit ‘down’ after talking with a group of people.
If that’s true for you, keep reading.
So, what does that experiment have to do with getting overwhelmed and exhausted after hanging out with people?
Answers B or C were driven by fear, in some shape or form.
And fear keeps up from showing up as our true selves.
When we don’t show up as our true selves we can feel exhausted, overwhelmed, and yes, even a little depressed.
Let me explain.
There are hundreds of reasons you may have answered B, but the most common reasons are…
- fear of being rude
- fear of being judged
- fear of not having anything interesting to say
- fear of not being good, smart, pretty, rich enough
When we have those things playing on repeat in the back of our minds, how likely, do you think, are we to show up as our true selves (which is totally awesome, by the way) and allow the people around us to get to know us?
That’s right, not very likely.
And when we don’t show up as our true selves, we are virtually acting. Putting on a mask to hide.
I know I used to do this all the time, especially when I went to business events. I was afraid that I wasn’t successful enough so I’d hang out alone, trying to look cool even though my stomach was in knots.
Keeping up an act for hours is exhausting work. That’s why so many women feel overwhelmed (and sometimes a little down) after hanging out with people.
If that’s you, here’s a super simple 4-stepper to banish your conversation blues:
Step 1: Before you arrive at a party or networking group, take a deep breath, and say to yourself “I intend to hang out with at least (X number of) awesome people who accept me for me. I have something to share that they will be happy to know.”
Step 2: Give yourself a role before you go. I like to imagine I’m the host of the party and my role is to connect people and make sure they feel comfortable.
Step 3: Introduce yourself “Hey, I’m _____! I’m really happy to be here.”
Step 4: Stay curious about your new friends. Ask open-ended questions: “So, what do you do for a living?” Answer their questions.
You’re doing great!
Remember: If you listen to THEM and make eye contact, they will walk away thinking “She’s really smart and fun!”
Enjoy! Cheers to feeling energized and invigorated after hanging out with people – no more network overwhelm!
After all, we are hardwired to connect. When we stop ourselves from having this, we’re cutting ourselves off from the vitality and rich aliveness that is our birthright.
How do you feel about networking events? Love ’em? Dread ’em? Let me know in the comments below.