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The fear of networking for engineers in business

How can you reduce anxiety when you go to an event or conference that includes networking?

You’ve booked your ticket to the conference and want to meet new people yet the anxiety and fear that come with networking means you usually avoid talking to people and end up standing alone in the corner.

If this happens to you then you are NOT ALONE!

Networking is not a natural talent and makes a lot of people nervous.

I was thrown in at the deep end and have been networking since the age of 9 when my dad used to rope me in for new car launches at his local dealership so I’ve picked up a few skills over the years.

What I’ve learned from working with hundreds of engineers and technical specialists over the years is that they can talk confidently once the conversation is established or the person they see at an event is already known. The main challenge is approaching people to initiate the conversation or starting a conversation with someone previously unknown.

I’ve coached many people over the last 12 years in sales and marketing and leadership roles to help them overcome these challenges and reduce their anxiety when it comes to starting conversations and building professional relationships.

Here are a few things you can try that will make your networking experience a bit easier and help you get more out of the events and conferences that you go to.

Don’t avoid networking and don’t let shared fears hold you back

Which one do you think will work best for you?

  1. Arrange to meet someone you already know at the event just before it starts - so you don’t have to walk in alone
  2. Look up people from the attendee list on LinkedIn to find out what they look like - so you can put a face to the name and easily pick them out of the crowd
  3. Arrange meetings with people you want to speak to ahead of the event - so you’re not leaving key conversations to chance
  4. Rehearse a few conversation starter prompts before you get there - so you’re not having to think on your feet
  5. Ask the people you already know who you want to meet and to make an introduction so that you’re not the one having to start the conversation
  6. Learn to read body language, identify people speaking in pairs that are not directly facing one another and ask if you can join them so that you can join a conversation that’s already open to inviting new people
  7. Make a note of things the speakers and panelists said during their session and approach them afterwards so you have a prepared conversation starter and common area of interest

If you want to get more sales from your marketing efforts and increase effectiveness then developing your networking skills is a good area to focus. If you or your team would like any support with this please get in touch

About the Author

Charlie Whyman is a commercial problem solver, consultant, trainer and coach. Charlie specialises in working with engineers in business to help them get more sales from their marketing efforts and increase profits. She does this by working with teams and individuals to give them the confidence and capability to increase performance and thrive.

Charlie is the creator of the OTTER Framework - a simple 5-step marketing planning tool and Clear the AIR, a coaching tool that reduces overwhelm and helps you get unstuck and moving forwards.

An engineer by background, Charlie discovered she had a talent for sales and marketing when offering her homegrown Sardinian olive oil on a Yorkshire market stall, selling lasers down one of the world’s deepest mines and moving rapidly from marketing assistant to Global Head of Sales and Marketing for a major player in the Geospatial sector.

Charlie is also an avid adventurer, cyclist and F1 fan