Overcoming Social Anxiety at Networking Events

I’ve known I was an introvert for as long as I can remember. I’ve always enjoyed being home, spending time alone, and avoiding events at all cost. I’d choose a relaxing night at home versus a night out at any time. While I’ve admitted to being an introvert, it wasn’t until recently I realized I have social anxiety.

Social Anxiety Disorder is a chronic mental condition in which social interactions cause irrational anxiety. While the symptoms vary between individual, they usually include excess fear and worry about embarrassment in social situations.

Personally, my social anxiety is crippling. My heart starts to race, and I begin to sweat at the thought of an upcoming networking event. While I’m still working on losing my social anxiety, there are a few things I’ve tried to overcome it.

Below are four tricks I try when I’m dealing with social anxiety.

Own your feelings

People are never as mean as we make them out to be in our minds. By simply telling the other person about your insecurities, you’re being vulnerable and allowing your authentic self to be seen. By owning your feelings, you also help make the other person more comfortable and willing to share more about themselves.

Go with a friend

While some people may consider this tip to be counterintuitive, attending an event with a friend can help in more ways than one. Arriving with a friend can take the initial fear that comes with arriving at an event. You can also ask that friend to hold you accountable to reach your networking goal.

Try the five-second rule

Mel Robbins’ Five Second Rule is one of my favorite hacks of all time. If you’re feeling stuck and unable to go up to someone, try the five-second rule. Simply count down from five and when you get to zero, make the move.

Walk away when necessary

Whether you need a breath of fresh air outside or feel the need to leave the event altogether, know that it’s OK. Give yourself grace and permission to do what feels right and necessary at the moment. There will always be more events and more opportunities to make your mark.