How To Build Your Network Without Having a Panic Attack

That time you saw me at that thing? I was screaming on the inside.

There are sooo many things that terrify me about networking events. I agonize over the best way to approach people, and then wuss out and don’t approach anyone. I assume that, when people see me cowering in the corner alone, they instantly know I’m lame. I worry that my obvious social awkwardness is turning off anyone I happen to be speaking with. I berate myself for being so completely boring.

I’m an introvert. Extended social interactions exhaust me and, after awhile, I hit a wall. I also have social anxiety. Drinking helps. My shrink has suggested pot. My Xanax just puts me to sleep.

But taking networking from online to in-the-flesh is SO IMPORTANT. It can solidify a relationship that you’ve developed online, or lead to new, promising connections. Also? Despite the fact that y’all terrify me so damn much, I love meeting new people and forging new connections. It’s just so gratifying to connect with someone who shares my interests… who can act as a sounding board… who I can swap tips and war stories with. And maintaining those relationships can be key in moving a career forward. The bulk of the work that comes to me nowadays is thanks to people I’ve worked with in the past, or people I BS with on Twitter, or people I’ve met at this or that networking event, thanks to several large glasses of wine.

I want you guys to have that, too.

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