Sage advice – how to conquer a fear of networking - Blog

Sage advice – how to conquer a fear of networking

Sage advice – how to conquer a fear of networking

“When new intentions become open to me, because new descriptions, new concepts, become available to me, I live in a new world of opportunities.”

Ian Hacking, Rewriting the Soul


To network – a modern, mechanical word we use to describe actions that are not those qualities. Networking is the word that many in modern business use to describe meeting new people. Every business card, every invitation on LinkedIn, adds a node to the world outside ourselves. Through networking, the entrepreneur can find new opportunities to grow their business, and themselves. But what makes networking so scary for so many people?


What’s behind the fear of networking?


What lies at the heart of many people’s discontent with networking? To engage in networking successfully is to expand the scope of one’s opportunities – and this seems like an eminently sensible thing to do.


But for many, the ‘commerciality’ is at the heart of their fear of engagement. Networking can take that which is the epitome of personal – you – and render it impersonal; making you turn yourself into a product for appraisal by the crowd. A part of us resists this; we are not wholly comfortable with making ourselves a commercial object, even as we do the same to others. Business is not solely about money – it is about those that we engage with along the way, and how the current of our life turns from one course to another by others.


Ancient Sage Advice


There’s a reason why Aristotle’s name has endured as one whose guidance remains worth consideration, despite his blind-spot for slavery and irrationally low opinion of women – he consistently cleared the murky waters of life with his teaching.


Consider his analysis of human relationships. He considered business partnerships to be friendships of a sort. These are not the highest kind of friendships, but they are relations worthy of respect. For him, the trust lies in the beneficial qualities involved – a good deal is a good deal for those involved.


Hold networking to Aristotle’s minimum standard, which acknowledges that business friendships may evolve into true friendships, while also saying that it’s proper to regard them more simply. Business is business – you give no more than you think is proper, and demand no more from others than you think is just. The whole of you is always present, but you show those with whom you network that they will deal only in the part that may bring them and you profit.


A new world of opportunities


The limited self that you present at networking events should provide you with enough emotional protection to get beyond worrying about the judgement of others. If you’re in the same room as a person, you have common ground.


But networking in a way that makes the experience pleasurable is the only certain way to transcend the alienating fear that may grip you in such occasions. You don’t need to be extroverted – a quiet conversation can be a more potent force than holding court to a gang.


Networking is to connect and to discovering people’s intentions – why they’re doing what they are, where they want their actions to drive them. Engaging with new people, even though you may be talking about familiar things, may bring a new perspective on your own endeavours. Where there’s new perspective, there’s new opportunity. And opportunity is all an entrepreneur needs.