You're not the only one! This very topic comes up very often and if you feel overwhelmingly nervous or uneasy about walking into a room full of people you don't know, than this post is for you.
The first thing I want to remind you of is that YOU ARE WANTED! No matter what you do for a living, regardless of how you feel about your physical appearance and no matter what the size of your bank account - you are a much wanted, very important and special person. Period. One of the most important facts about networking is that every single person in the world is someone else's ideal connection. Think about it...the woman who just started her own business is a great introduction for a website designer, an office furniture company an insurance broker, etc... The guy who has been struggling for years and who has fallen behind with payments is a great introduction for a credit repair specialist, possibly a bankruptcy attorney and staffing agency. When you find yourself getting nervous about networking, remember that you are an ideal connection for many others and realize your self worth. People want to meet you, trust me!
The second thing I am compelled to scream from the rooftops is that many of the most introverted and shiest people I have ever met ARE SOME OF THE MOST COVETED INTRODUCTIONS IN EXISTENCE!!! You have to take my word on this one, I don't have any hard cold data but what I do have is experience. After more than 9 years of running networking events plus another 10 attending them, I have seen quite a lot. Many people who are reluctant to "get out there" are the very same people many are hoping to meet. Think about it like this: the number one complaint when it comes to networking is that people hate being sold. If you are on the quiet side, you are naturally wired to be an observer and to not go into pitch mode when meeting people for the 1st time (or 2nd or 3rd.) You are genuinely seeking out referral relationships and professional bonds. This alone makes you desirable in the world of networking because you are there for the right reasons.
Last but not least, I want to implore you to give this a sincere effort. As one of our members Steven C. Horn said "It gets easier every time because after just one event, you will recognize people and before you know it you will be a connector." What Steve says is true! Here at Elephant Networking, we educate our members on how to be a connector. We encourage our clients to go up to new faces in the room and break the ice for them. We want everyone to be the person they wish they encountered the first time they attended a networking event. In the interest of great networking, we want you - the somewhat nervous & not so Type A personality to have a great experience. In turn and down the road, we believe you will be the one to reach out and make others feel welcome and comfortable. Now that's good Karma!
As with all other fears, once we face them they shrink or disappear. Don't let the four letter monster win!!! I bet if you start now, a year from now we will laugh about how networking made you break into a cold sweat and how now you absolutely love networking (in fact you may be addicted to it. And...if you want recommendations regarding which events would be best for you (in my opinion) then shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 516.445.5069 and I will provide you with a strategy.