There are things in my life, professionally and personally that I simply don’t want to do. I’m not good at them, they scare me. Whatever the reason, I do everything to avoid them… Until I can’t avoid them anymore and I just have to do them.
This week I am in Charleston, SC for a conference. I love conferences because I love to travel and I love to learn. I always leave feeling empowered and invincible after an inspiring Boss conference. But there is one part I hate with a passion… Networking. Seriously. No one ever believes me when I say that I have serious social anxiety. Well, I used to.
A few years ago I was getting ready to go into a mixer. Nothing crazy but I was by myself and I didn’t know if I would know anyone at the party. So I am out in the parking lot, my Lyft had just dropped me off and I was about to go inside when I started to shake, and sweat. And when I say sweat I mean like a pig. Those nasty stress sweats that doesn’t stop… Yeah, that shit. So I called my mom, my rock, to tell her I was going home. I just didn’t think I could walk into that room and face all those people. Talking to anyone wasn’t even on my radar. Just having them look at me was too much. I was so scared that they would judge me and see just how insecure I was as a professional. Even though I was running my own company, I felt like a phony. Well this train of thought lead to tears. So now I was stinky and splotchy. Great combo when meeting new people.
When my mom answered the phone do you know what she said? She said, “You have to do this. So suck it up and get in there.” Damn, mom. That was harsh. But she was absolutely right. I had to go in there. My business was built on word of mouth… I had to get to know my professional community and connect with them so that they would refer me to others or use my services for their own businesses.
I eventually did go in and had an okay time. But what it did was start a ripple effect of changing my mindset. I began forcing myself to step out of my comfort zone and did what I knew needed to be done. My mindset was to shift to tough love.
You need this.
You have to do this for your survival.
Suck it up. This won’t kill you.
So this week I forced myself again. I went to a conference all by myself. I did my best to chat with people and connect. It’s not what I wanted to do… At All! I really just wanted the knowledge and the free food. But I knew that I had to make connections. Real estate is still a business. I still have a need for clients and one great way to get clients is to connect with other industry leaders outside of my community or state. It would have been so much easier to get in my car drive to my friends, cozy up in my sweats and drink some wine.
But I didn’t. I went to the after party. To keep me from leaving I had a glass of wine. I knew it would be a few hours before I could drive so that was step one. Then I would tell myself I couldn’t leave until I tried all the food being served at the different stations. Finally I wasn’t allowed to leave until I stopped at each booth and asked questions about whatever was there. This really helped. Breaking it down into small tasks took my mind off of my fears and made the time go quickly. Before I knew it I had been there for almost 4 hours and had gotten about a dozen business cards and spoke to almost 20 people! I freaking did it….of course after I did all my tasks I jetted out of there as fast as possible and didn’t make eye contact with anyone…. I’m still a work in progress.
We are all a work in progress. It takes time sometimes years to build your confidence to do whatever it is your trying to do. But it will come. Just keep trying.
You have to progress. Don’t settle to be stagnate. Get up and do one thing everyday that scares you. For me, it’s social interacting. It’s still a struggle to get me to network. I still hate it BUT… I don’t sweat so much anymore and I no longer cry. Winning! I know I can do this. Why? Because I survived the first time… and the time after that… and after that.
You will be okay. You just have to trust your progress.