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Get NetworkingGet Networking : July 2008

The first issue of our quarterly newsletter "Get Networking" includes Steven's interview with Katie Ledger, presenter of "Click" on BBC TV. Katie gives us some great hints and tips on "Getting you heard" .

David McQueen,the founder of Milestone Unlimited, a company dedicated to the empowering and inspiring of people to lead extraordinary lives and unleash their full potential explains the importantance of a clear vision.

Nathan John, EMEA Recruitment Manager at Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management and ex Head-hunter, shares with us tips on how to use networking to secure a job interview based on a recruiter’s perspective!

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Please find below the current free article by Life Coach David M North who examines how to develop self-confidence- a vital ingredient for all Brilliant Networkers. Enjoy!

How Do I Develop Self Confidence?

by David M North


My cat ran along the top of a narrow wall without putting a foot wrong.  She leapt down onto our wheelie bin, then the window ledge, then the path, and finally rubbed against my leg.  This amazing piece of death defying gymnastics is part of her daily routine.  And she is so relaxed and confident as she does it.

When you read self help literature you are often asked to accept that your beliefs control how you feel about some event, or how well you perform in skilled tasks, and even whether you can actually do a particular thing or not.  Often, you will read an example like the following.

Imagine you are asked to walk along a two foot wide, sturdy plank of wood, that has been laid on the ground.  No problem you think.  Now, the example goes, imagine the plank is raised to be a bridge between two skyscrapers, and that putting a foot wrong as you cross  will plunge you to your death.  Most people, the example says, would imagine falling and be unable to walk this bridge, even though it is a no more difficult a task than when the wood was on the ground.  The difference, they say, is your imagination about the event, you thoughts and pre existing beliefs about the task, and your faith in your own abilities (I would probably refer them to my cat, who does the feline equivalent to the skyscraper bit daily).

So what has this got to do with networking, self confidence, and being relaxed and assured when meeting people?  Quite a lot really.  Although the example is a common one, it makes a good point which can be widely applied.

If you are like most people, you will have built and maintained a social network many times in your life as you moved say, from one area to another, one school to another, from school into work, maybe from job to job.  Clearly networking is something we all do naturally and easily throughout  life.  It is just that the kind of networking we are talking about here has a slightly different focus.

I'd like you to consider for a moment just how many skills and abilities you have learned throughout your life, albeit unconsciously,  as you built your social networks.  These skills are a basic part of what makes us human beings.  As a social mammal that relies on cooperation, specialised roles within our society, division of labour within the household and family unit etc., by the time we are adult we are positive experts in how to network.

So this begs the question, if we are all so good at it, why do we feel lacking in self confidence when faced with the wider networking that is the subject of this book?

For many more years than I care to remember, this was a question that came up time and time again in my psychotherapy practice.  I was frequently consulted by people who could demonstrate that they had all the skills and abilities necessary to succeed in a particular area of their life, yet their confidence levels were low, and they rarely achieved the success they deserved in that area.

Time and time again, the problem was so simple, and so common, and so easily solved, that once someone got the hang of it, they wondered what all the fuss was about.

Let's look at an event from two different perspectives.

Imagine you are walking down the road.  Suddenly you trip over a loose kerb stone and fall (happily without physical injury).  Before you can collect yourself, several people are there, helping you up, dusting you down, asking if you are alright.  How embarrassing.  What a fool you feel.  You can feel hundreds of eyes on you because everyone is staring at you and thinking "What an idiot, to fall over like that for no reason....."

Hang on.

Imagine you are walking down the road, and up ahead of you, someone trips and falls.  A number of people nearer than you go to his aid.  You can see he is OK, and has help.  You continue on your way without giving it a second thought.

In the first instance you felt a complete fool.  In the second (where you were one of those hundreds of pairs of eyes causing embarrassment) you thought nothing of the matter beyond a mild concern.

Now, if questioned, many people in the first scenario would say they were lacking in self confidence when the fall occurred, and later as they walked around in the area where they had fallen.   But, in fact, what they experienced as a lack of confidence was really an over awareness of themselves, or put another way, self consciousness.  They were examining their own behaviour as it occurred and drawing conclusions as to what other people were thinking about them based on that behaviour (in this case falling).  These conclusions (i.e. what they thought about the situation)were changing how they felt and the feelings were reducing their ability to function at their best.

Once a sequence of "bad" thoughts has been started, and your emotions have been engaged, it is quite common for other thoughts which share the same feeling to start running around in your head, making you feel less and less self confident in that situation.

Now consider the same process at work in  networking.  You are going to a party where there will be several people you want to talk to.  If these people will help you, you will be able to move your project forward quite spectacularly, it may even save you several months of work.

So what s the worst that can happen if you  completely mess up at the party? Remember, when networking, most people will either help you, or will perceive you a bit like the person who tripped in our earlier example.  You will pass through their thoughts briefly, then you will be out of their mind as they move onto something far more interesting to them.  Sad, but true. An opportunity missed perhaps, but you are certainly no worse off for having tried are you?  So the worst outcome is things stay as they are.

If though, you go to the party with your mind locked onto how important  it is to make the  right impression, how you must behave in the right way,  say the right thing, wear the right clothes etc., then you are certainly not going to be self confident.   In fact,  you are going to be constantly watching what you are doing, listening to what you are saying, watching  other people and trying to guess what they are thinking.  All of this internal self policing prevents you from being at your best, and produces the feeling of self consciousness - a feeling which most people interpret as a lack of self confidence.

So for the vast majority of us, the way to develop self confidence is quite simply to change what we pay attention to at any time.

Think back to a time when you felt really confident and were working well.  Everything came easily to you, and even if something took you by surprise, you knew exactly how to respond, almost without thinking about it.  You felt good.

What was going on in you mind at the time?  For most people, the difference will be that they were paying attention to what was going on around them, not to themselves.  Their attention was most definitely not focused on whether they were doing their best or not, and consequently, freed from an internal mental restriction they did a better job and felt much better (more self confident) into the bargain.

Being self confident and performing well in networking situations is a like catching a ball.  Virtually everyone learned how to catch a ball as they were growing up, just as virtually everyone has learned how to build social and work networks.  Now if someone throws a ball at you, and you think about  it, odds are you'll never catch it.  You'll fumble, maybe drop it, maybe even miss it entirely.  And the more important it becomes consciously, to catch that ball, the more likely you are to mess up.  On the other hand, if you simply let your body do what it has done hundreds of times before and just reach out and catch it, the whole thing becomes effortless and effective.

Now, you have most of the skills you need to network successfully, and any you're lacking this book can help you with, so you are in the same position as our ball catcher.  If you try too hard, you'll mess up your own efforts, whereas if you put your focus outside yourself, and let you inner knowledge handle the situation, it will, like the cat on the wall,  do well and feel good.

So it is important to practice putting your attention outside yourself.  Watching what's going on around you, and being aware of the sounds, smells etc. that you experience.  Let your body and mind go on autopilot.  Being confident is letting go and allowing things to develop in whatever way they do.  If you don't like the way they're going, then in this state it is far more likely that the first thing that comes into your mindwill be the right thing to do.  Trust your inner knowledge, the product of years of experience, and see what happens.

I will be the first to admit that sometimes this approach will let you down.  It is by no means perfect.  But it does hit the nail on the head far more than the more usual "Self policing" methods that are taught by implication in a lot of situations.



2009 BrilliantNetworking.net

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