Wednesday, 01 March 2017 00:19

How can I find a job if I am unable to "network"?

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You present an interesting scenario, likely experienced by more people than you can imagine.

Having never met you and only knowing what you have posted here, I am making a lot of assumptions but as I said above, you share common problems with others.

First off, you say that you have crippling anxiety. That really sucks! However, it doesn’t mean that you are ‘unable’ to network. You are actively choosing not to network to avoid the extreme anxiety that you experience when you do socialize.

You say that all of your job coaches heave told you that you need to get out there and network to get a job. While I agree with their advice, they are putting the proverbial cart before the horse.

If you have extreme social anxiety in social settings, it stands to reason that you would also have the same social anxiety in a work setting. Workplaces can be very social.

From my mental health professional background, I would strongly suggest that you seek professional help from a mental health councillor with a background in helping people overcome anxiety issues.

They would likely be able to help you develop strategies to work on reducing your anxiety. This isn’t a quick fix. I would recommend researching any anxiety/panic disorder groups in your community. A self-help group can provide you moral and emotional support from others that have overcome or are currently experiencing similar challenges. There can also be benefit to talking to your family doctor about your anxiety. Anxiety is very real in many people and anxiety-reducing medication may be of advantage to you.

For anyone experiencing social anxiety, I always recommend joining Toastmasters, if you have one in your local community. It would be daunting at first but by repeatedly attending meetings and speaking in a safe environment it can really help improve your self-confidence.

As your social anxiety reduces, then you can think of factoring in networking strategies.

I haven’t had crippling social anxiety, but I have certainly experienced social anxiety. I decided to do something about it and wrote a book called Power Networking for Shy People: Tips & Techniques for Moving from Shy to Sly! It is an affordable, downloadable e-book.

While the book doesn’t solve the problem of shyness, it does provide a series of strategies to level the playing field between shy networkers and the not so shy ones.

In my experience, a lot of the anxiety that we experience in networking, i.e. social interactions is FEAR- based. FEAR equals False Expectations Appearing Real. We expect to be afraid, so guess what? We are afraid! Then we are afraid of being afraid. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. We need to break the cycle.

I believe that if we are prepared in advance with knowledge, it can reduce the anxiety that we experience with networking and help us be more effective.

I heard a saying a long time ago that says ‘you aren’t going to make any changes in your life until remaining where you are is more painful than making the changes.’

Your challenge isn’t going to go away on its own. If you don’t do something about it, who will? I would encourage you to purchase my book and follow through with the advice I have provided.

Good luck!

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