Networking fear rejection overcome

Seven steps to overcome the networking fear of rejection

Steve Kimmens Develop your skills, Networking Leave a Comment

Overcome the networking fear of rejection to unlock your career potential. We all know the importance of people in connecting us to great opportunities, providing us great insights, or simply helping us to do our job. While we know the power of people, we can be blocked from building a network by our fear of rejection. Here are seven steps to overcome the networking fear of rejection and make your network work for you.

It’s not what you know, but who you know.

Even though we know the value of a network, most of us don’t build or maintain our network until we really need it (often when we are looking for a job). There are all sorts of reasons why we don’t network. One reason is that we think it is ethically wrong to network. We might associate networking with fake people at awkward cocktail nights. We might simply just want to do our job. As we found with Dave’s story, networking will make a big difference to your ability to get your job done. 

To get the benefit of networking, you need to break down why you aren’t doing it. Here are seven steps if your blocker is the networking fear of rejection.

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Use our seven step guide to overcome the fear of rejection.

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Seven steps to overcome the networking fear of rejection

First step is to recognise the fear of rejection

The first question to ask yourself, what is holding me back from networking? Often it is the fear of rejection. The fear of reaching out to someone and them turning us down.

The fear of rejection is very common, and the great news is that working on networking can be a great way to build your self-confidence.

Second step is to ask yourself what is the worst that will happen if I am rejected?

The second step is to think what is the worst-case scenario if I am rejected? In a work setting, you might email someone and they don’t respond. Alternatively, they might reply and say they don’t have the time.

At an event at work you might ask a colleague for a coffee to discuss in more detail their presentation. They might say no.

These don’t sound too bad to me. These aren’t going to damage your reputation or stop you from getting your job done.

People are very busy at work, but they will more often than not make time for a coffee with a colleague. As soon as you start asking people you will be amazed by how often people will make time for you.

This neatly leads us to step three, the secret to all networking.

Third step is knowing the secret of networking, people want to be helpful, so always play to their ego.

People want to be helpful. They want to share their knowledge. People want to be thanked for their help.

That means you should always play to someone’s ego.

We want to be helpful as human beings. If someone reaches out for a coffee and asks me a specific question, which I answer, and they appreciate my perspective, I’m going to feel good about myself.

Here’s the big secret, by reaching out to people you are helping them! You are giving them the opportunity to share their expertise.

Especially people who might not get asked to go for a coffee. Imagine how good it would feel for someone to reach out, buy you a coffee, pick your brain and be influenced by what you had to say. I’d feel great.

Fourth step to overcoming the fear of rejection is starting with small steps to practice and build confidence.

As a result of understanding the secret of networking I am feeling more confident that I should be networking.

To get good at networking, the trick is to network.

The best way to learn is with small steps. In networking, this could look like:

  1. a small step: have a coffee with someone you know who isn’t a friend, how about someone on your team?
  2. a slightly bigger step: reach out to a someone you know but haven’t really spoken to one-on-one, how about someone who attends a regular group meeting with you?
  3. a bigger step: reach out to a manager who you interact with, how about a manager of a sister team or a manager of a stakeholder group?

Networking practice small steps to build confidence and overcome fear of rejection

Fifth step how to ask to have a networking coffee

Start with what you would like to understand or learn from the other person.

For instance, the first person we are reaching out to is on our team. Susan might run particular analytics reports. I could say to her, “Susan can I find 30 minutes in your diary to buy you a coffee and pick your brain on the analytics report?” Another angle could be, “Susan I heard that you used to work for ABC Inc, I’d be really curious to understand what it was like working there, can I find 30 minutes in your diary to buy you a coffee?”

Have a clear idea of what you want to get out of your time with that person and make that clear to them upfront. Being genuinely interested in this topic will make connecting much easier. Networking isn’t about being fake, it is about making real connections.

At this point don’t be deterred if you do get rejected. It probably will happen at some point. Any rejection is a good signal to you that it is OK to reach out as nothing drastically bad happens with rejection.

Sixth step how to run the 30 minute networking coffee

Remember, you have a clear idea of what you want to get out of this session. During your coffee you want to get to that relatively quickly.

  1. Begin with small talk: say hello, introduce yourself and make small talk. Your small talk options are:
    a. Venue – “this place makes great coffee,” “this place is always busy”
    b. Weather – “what a hot/cold/rainy day”
    c. Day – “How is your day going?”
    d. Weekend – “How was your weekend?”
  2. Thank them for their time and remind them of the purpose: “Thanks for your time, I wanted to pick your brain on X because it is important/interesting to me because of Y”
  3. Ask an opening question: “With the analytics report have you seen a change in the trend in the last 6 months?” “I head ABC Inc did great work in the development space, did you find that?”
  4. Listen to what they have to say: it might sound obvious, but the purpose of the coffee is to hear what they have to say and to learn from them. Therefore, you need to listen.
  5. Ask follow-up questions: “It is interesting that you say X have you seen that before?” “I hadn’t thought about it like that, have you seen other people have similar challenges?”
  6. Wrap-up thank them for their time: “I really appreciate your time, it was really interesting what you had to say about X.”

Seventh step keep up the momentum to overcome the networking fear of rejection

Practice makes perfect, especially when we have a fear holding us back from doing something.

Once you start networking, you need to keep it up to build your confidence and make networking a habit.

Download the guide

Use our seven step guide to overcome the fear of rejection.

Download now

Overcoming the networking fear of rejection is in your control and will make a difference to your career.

These seven steps will help you to overcome the networking fear of rejection and make your network work for you. If you are still having difficulty with networking you might want to read about why building connections with people is so important to your career.

The next step is to use the four ways to network in a large organisation.

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