Network Like a Boss: Common Barriers to Meeting New People [+ How to Overcome Them]

If you want to be successful in any field, knowing how to network is an absolute must. Unfortunately, many people don’t feel comfortable engaging with people in unfamiliar environments.  

With the right mindset and strategies, it is possible to overcome barriers to meeting new people and forge valuable connections. Here are the most common networking challenges and how to overcome them.

Introversion and Shyness

Some people have been shy all their lives. For them, socializing in any setting is an anxiety-inducing nightmare. If you’re an introvert, the best way to overcome this challenge is by shifting your mindset. Rather than seeing networking as a daunting task, why not look at it as an opportunity to make lasting connections.

Unless you are feeling incredibly courageous, it’s a good idea to start with small groups. Attend various types of engagements until you become comfortable. Seek support from your inner circle and practice socializing before the event. Prepare talking points and questions in advance to help ease any anxiety that may come up on the day of the event.

Lack of Confidence

As mentioned before, practice makes perfect or at the very least builds confidence. You need to identify your strengths and focus on them as well as your accomplishments. Recognize the value of what you bring to the table. You have career and life perspectives that could benefit others.

Create an elevator pitch to introduce yourself and explain what you do. Build rock solid confidence by practicing your elevator pitch with people who can give you some feedback and adjust it from there.

Fear of Rejection

Rejection is a feeling that many of us try to avoid at all costs. Think of it this way. If you get rejected, it is not a reflection of who you are or your value. Use it as an opportunity to grow.

Reflect on what went right during the networking session. Attend another event as soon as possible. That way, you’ll learn how to interact with people whether they are open to getting to know you or not.

Breaking the Ice With People You Don’t Know

Speaking to a stranger can be intimidating but it doesn’t have to be. When approaching someone new, try to ask open-ended questions that encourage conversation and allow others to share with you. There you can find common ground and connect based on shared experiences.

Remember that the people attending these events are there for the same reason: to establish meaningful professional relationships. The stranger could quickly become the connection that changes your life.

Limited Access to Professional Networks

Sometimes it may feel impossible to get into a network due to being a novice in the field. Or it could be that you live in a small town and your geographical location prevents you from meeting the right people. However, you shouldn’t let these perceived limitations stop you.

Explore alternative networking opportunities by joining industry-specific online communities like LinkedIn where you can engage with professionals. You should also consider joining professional associations or volunteer organizations to meet like-minded people.

Overcoming these challenges is not easy, but if you shift your perspective and practice, you will become a networking boss in no time. Embrace each opportunity to network with an open mind because, at the very least, it’s a chance to grow. In due time, the relationships you build will set you up for long-term success.