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After attending a recent networking event in Dublin, an observation I made was that there was a lot of fear in the room and a lot of people experiencing feelings of being an imposter.

One of the visitors to my own business to business network (Ignite Business Network) asked me how I could tell this. It’s hard for me to put a finger on it, but let’s say that it comes from a lot of experience. I used to be the queen of feeling like an imposter. I didn’t have the language to describe what was happening to me, to describe the emotions and fear that I felt, and I didn’t know ‘imposter syndrome’ was ‘a thing’. For decades, in my corporate career, I simply never felt good enough. I always felt ‘less than’.

Add those feelings to someone who is naturally shy and an introvert, someone who watches people and sees so much that others don’t see, and then I get a super strong sense of people who are feeling ill-at-ease with themselves.

While the phrase, imposter syndrome, has become ubiquitous in our society, there is also a clarification to be made. It’s not a syndrome, but rather a collective of feelings…feelings of not being enough, of being a fraud, of not being good enough.

How Does Imposter Syndrome Manifest Itself in Networking

Imposter syndrome can manifest in a number of ways when it comes to networking:

  • Simply not showing up. Not engaging at all because everything isn’t perfect.
  • Signing up for events and meetings and then suddenly becoming too ‘busy’ to attend and cancelling last minute.
  • Showing up, but slinking to the bar or the coffee station, or a table, or a chair and attaching oneself as if life itself depended on it.
  • Showing up and going full ‘icicle’ on it…my own term. In my case, I was the ice-maiden…this is how I covered what was going on.

What I’ve noticed and experienced, ironically, is that the higher up the ‘ladder’ one goes, the bigger the likelihood of the person experiencing feelings of imposter syndrome.

But here’s the clincher…the people who are feeling it are generally, generous, talented, courageous humans who have yet to define how to step into their power.

I’m on a mission to help people find their talents, step into their power and realise their potential through learning how to network. So what better topic for a blog than how to manage imposter syndrome while networking.

How to Manage Imposter Syndrome While Networking

Managing imposter syndrome while networking can be challenging, but there are strategies you can employ to cope with these feelings and present yourself confidently. Here are some tips:

1. Acknowledge Your Achievements

Remind yourself of your accomplishments and the skills and experiences that qualify you to be in the networking event or situation. Reflect on your successes and recognize your value.

2. Practice Self-Compassion

Treat yourself with kindness and understanding. Understand that it’s natural to feel insecure sometimes, and it doesn’t diminish your worth. Practice self-compassion by speaking to yourself as you would to a friend in a similar situation.

3. Set Realistic Expectations

Understand that not every interaction needs to be perfect. Set realistic expectations for yourself and accept that it’s okay to feel nervous or unsure in networking situations.

4. Focus on Learning

Instead of seeing networking events as opportunities to prove yourself, view them as opportunities to learn and grow. Shift your focus from trying to impress others to gathering information, making connections, and expanding your knowledge.

5. Find a Support System

Surround yourself with supportive friends, family members, or mentors who can provide encouragement and reassurance when you’re feeling doubtful. Share your feelings with them, and they may offer valuable perspectives and advice.

6. Visualise Success

Visualise yourself confidently engaging in networking conversations and making meaningful connections. This mental rehearsal can help boost your confidence and reduce anxiety when you’re actually in networking situations.

8. Practice Assertive Communication

Practice assertive communication techniques to express yourself confidently and effectively. Remember that it’s okay to ask questions, share your opinions, and assert your expertise when appropriate.

9. Challenge Negative Thoughts

When you notice negative thoughts creeping in, challenge them with evidence that contradicts them. Remind yourself of your past successes and the reasons why you belong in the networking environment.

10. Take Breaks When Needed

If you start feeling overwhelmed or anxious during a networking event, it’s okay to take breaks. Step outside for some fresh air, grab a drink of water, or simply find a quiet corner to collect your thoughts and regroup.

11. Seek Professional Help if Necessary

If imposter syndrome is significantly impacting your well-being or ability to network effectively, consider seeking support from a therapist or counselor. They can provide strategies and techniques tailored to your specific needs.

In Conclusion

Remember that imposter syndrome is common and experienced by many successful individuals. By implementing these strategies and practicing self-compassion, you can navigate networking situations with greater confidence and authenticity.

 

By Jean Evans – Networking Architect – originally posted on www.networkingjean.ie

MWIBN Coordinator

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