The Power of Stress in Networking
When you hear the word, networking, what comes to mind and what happens to you physically? If your palms start to sweat and your heart beats like coffee is running through your veins, you’re not alone. Simply hearing or saying the word, networking, causes many people to feel a sense of overwhelm, anxiety and stress.
Today, I’m going to share some powerful, scientific based research on how we can shift our perspectives around stress to build more resilience and become even more effective connectors!
Stress is such an interesting concept to me. Personally, I feel stress when I’m at a huge networking event, say a conference or a lecture with more than 50 people, and I haven’t taken the time to identify who I want to meet, what open-ended questions I’m going to use; and I find myself aimlessly walking around wasting time and energy. Yes, even I struggle with networking! The notion of stress in relation to networking got me thinking, “How can we use research on stress to become better networkers?”
And voila, just like that I came across a fascinating article by, Dr. Tasha Eurich, entitled Bouncing Back from life’s challenges. In this article, Dr. Eurich shares, “Encouragingly, there is a growing body of evidence showing that we can increase our resilience in two general ways. First, we can prepare ourselves to face stress more successfully. For example, research has shown that regular exercise changes the circuitry in our brains, better allowing us to rise above our body’s reactions to stress. Similarly, building a strong social support network lessens stress' physical effects.”
If stress has been part of your networking equation and you’re looking for new solutions to see results from networking you can begin by following Dr. Eurich’s advice. You can enable yourself to become more resilient to the effects of stress by exercising regularly and by intentionally BUILDING A STRONG SOCIAL NETWORK! BOOM. Purposefully creating networks of support can lessen the physical effects of stress, how exciting is that!?! (If you couldn’t tell, I’m pretty excited over here!)
Yes, when we take the time to focus on building a strong network of support and learn how to foster the needs of others and ask for the support we need, we can all become more resilient and feel less stress!
According to The National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Social support has been described as “support accessible to an individual through social ties to other individuals, groups, and the larger community.” In addition to this definition research shares that strong social supports include: frequent social interactions (consistency) and a functional dimension with emotional support (such as receiving love and empathy).
One of the most common questions I hear from clients and friends is, “Alyce, who should I network with and what networking groups should I join?” My answer to these questions is simple: Identify people you already know, like and trust and reconnect with them. When we spend time reconnecting we’re more likely to feel confident and utilize our time better because we don’t get trapped in a bunch of ‘small talk’.
Also, if you’re serious about joining a networking group, I suggest you try a few out and when you find one or two (not more than that, trust me you’ll burn out and spread yourself too thin). COMMIT to the group and to connecting with the other active members. Remember, research shows that strong social supports blossom when we’re consistent and can add elements of emotional support. The ability to share emotional support and consistency go hand in hand as they grow with each other over a period of time.
To recap, spend time reconnecting with friends, family members, former colleagues, community members and when you find a networking group that aligns with your networking goals, commit to showing up, serving the group and receiving support!
I’m working hard to not only reframe the way I think about stress but the way I use stress to help my clients succeed both personally and professionally.
When we can think about stress from a different vantage point, as something that can aid us in networking, rather than hinder us, it’s possible we’ll see and experience difference results.
If you’re ready to think about stress differently I challenge you to answer the following questions.
What’s one small step you can take to include exercise into your routine so you can build higher levels of resilience against stress before your next networking engagement?
What would it look like to have a strong network of support by your side the next time you network? Take stock of who’s already in your network and identify 5-10 people who you consider to be your current support system, both personally and professionally, and ask yourself, “Do these people share emotional support with me? Am I able to share emotional support with them and is there a level of consistency in which we see each other?”
If you took the time to answer those questions I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org or perhaps you’ll even share them with our community by clicking here so that we can all learn from each other and build a strong network of support for one another!
Have a great day and as always,