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The Fear of Networking

by Zarvesha Rasool


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How can you navigate your first networking event where your colleagues are probably the only familiar faces for you?

April 2023. I was there. At my first ever networking event, in a room full of inspirational clients and candidates that I was nervously excited to meet.

Reflecting back, I couldn’t be happier and prouder that – despite the anxiety of making a good first impression, holding a valuable conversation, and keeping it a refreshing interaction – I pushed myself to go and shake every possible hand.

Struggling to find tangible tips the night before the event, I wanted to share some insight into how we can feel as prepared as possible before going into a networking event because, as one of my colleagues said, ‘networking is always nerve-wracking, no matter how experienced or how long you’ve been doing it for’.

Here are a few things to tick off next time you have an event to attend:

  1. Homework is key. Look at the list of attendees and spend some time thinking about who you want to meet and who they are. Fear always stems from the unknown. The more background knowledge you have on the people you will be meeting, the more comfortable you will naturally feel.
  2. Have a standard introduction. Think about what you want people to know you as and write it down. The beginning is always the hardest, so if you already know what the first 30 seconds of the discussion will be, it will make it significantly easier for you to start the conversation.
  3. Listen and make them feel heard. The most unforgettable conversations are the ones where you know that the other person is genuinely interested in you. Say what you want to say, but also listen to them and interact with what they are talking about so that the conversation easily flows.
  4. Most importantly, be yourself. People will remember you for being you, not for being someone else. Be your original, authentic, and real self; it will give you the confidence you need to go around the room and enable you to have unique conversations with everyone you meet.

Undoubtedly, it is always daunting to interact with new people, but it’s only by pushing yourself and stepping out of your comfort zone that you truly start to grow, develop, and learn – all of which are the biggest asset that we can invest in for ourselves.

Zarvesha is an Associate Consultant at Tile Hill and has been with Tile Hill for 9 months. She focuses on senior interim recruitment across corporate services including HR, Legal, Transformation, Customer Services, Procurement, and IT and Digital.

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