How To Not Let Social Anxiety Stop You From Networking

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Social anxiety comes in different forms, especially for Zillennials dealing with the entries of adulthood, including solo networking events. Thanks to the pandemic, Zoom and video chats shifted what it means to interact for an entire generation. As in-person events return, there’s a restart process of being around others again. 

According to Harmony Healthcare, 61 percent of Gen Z have a medically diagnosed anxiety condition. 54 percent of that data has stated their anxiety has been worse this year. Though social media provides tips and aesthetically pleasing content for people going to events alone, it still doesn’t diminish the intense feeling of distress. 

“Many individuals diagnosed with this disorder often experience overwhelming worry about being judged, criticized, or embarrassed anytime they participate in social settings,” says Keisha Saunders-Waldron, licensed professional counselor. “This fear can significantly impact their ability to engage in everyday activities, thereby causing them to avoid social interactions that may trigger anxiety.”

The symptoms of social anxiety include self-consciousness, avoidance and isolation. Though the pandemic had a major impact on us, this mental disorder is not a new concept. “It’s not simply being shy,” Saunders-Waldron says. “When someone is diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, they are not looking for attention; but instead, are fearful of drawing negative attention to themselves.”

With the holidays quickly approaching, many festive functions are in full effect. If you’re planning on rolling solo, check out some key tips on how to work the room and make a great impression during your visit. 

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Research needs to be implemented to have a successful night out solo. From conversation starters like “I love your fit,” to mapping out the space to form a planned agenda. “You cannot force yourself to overcome social anxiety disorder,” she says. “Treatment often requires therapeutic intervention and a strategic plan and method of coping.”

Gradual Exposure

Baby steps are a key component when gearing up for networking events. Starting small can serve as a trial and error period to get you comfortable interacting with others at a small scale rather than jumping into larger parties.

Positive Visualization

If you’re looking for a major confidence booster, visualization is the perfect way to prepare for a great night, no matter the event. When you imagine the night going well, you grow instead of allowing the anxiety to take over.

Mindful Breathing

When arriving at a party, everything moves incredibly fast. It can be overwhelming seeing so many unfamiliar faces, so it’s important to practice deep breathing to control anxiety during the event.

Setting Realistic Goals

Creating goals is a critical component of a calming, stressless evening. If you plan to speak to a certain number of guests, you feel more fulfilled. Focus on achievable social goals and celebrate each success, no matter how small.

About Kenyatta: Clark Atlanta University and Medill School alumna Kenyatta Victoria is the Girls United writer covering everything from news, pop culture, lifestyle, and investigative stories. When not reporting, she’s diving deep into her curated playlists or binging her favorite comfort shows.

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