Is networking good for your mental health?

Business Buzz for Birmingham & Warwickshire

One of the biggest side effects of the pandemic is the impact it’s had on people’s mental health, but even before the arrival of Coronavirus & lockdown after lockdown, so many small business owners were challenged by managing their mental health. Being a business owner & the boss can be an isolating experience. It is not always easy to share what is happening in your business with family & friends or with employees, so this is where peer-to-peer connections matter.

My personal experience as someone who suffers with less than perfect mental health means that on my good days I am good, but on my bad days, working for myself can be like wading through treacle with the feeling of isolation amplified.

However, I find girding my loins to head out networking can help lift the malaise associated with my mental health. It requires the use of a lot of mental & physical energy to get myself mixing & mingling, but the outcomes of being with like-minded people out way the downsides. I have made Business Buzz with it’s no fuss & no pressure format the heart of my networking. Time after time it has delivered for me. It has allowed me to build a community of trusted like-minded business owners; my peers. I come away from Buzz literally Buzzing & always energised. So, I would say networking can play a positive role in balancing one’s mental health.

2020 has been tough for many business owners, especially without their usual social networks & this has made life & business a bit of a struggle. For others, being in constant close contact with family members has made life very difficult indeed! How have you made the adjustment to working remotely or without your usual colleagues or connections around you?

For me, the shift from face-to-face to virtual networking has not been the easiest of adjustments. I have relied heavily on networking to not only build my business but to develop & build those important peer relationships. Without a question of a doubt, this social aspect is hugely beneficial to me on both a professional & personal level as well as for my mental health. Even though there are days where I wake up & my anxiety is “off the scale”, I am still able to push past it to get networking, feel less lonely & to feel better.

What if you are someone who is fantastic at their job or runs an innovative business, but the thought of going out & meeting new people you’ve never seen before fills you with horror?! I know there are people out there who feel they can’t network because anxiety creates insurmountable odds. Even for the most experience networker overcoming this can be a challenge, so there is no need to feel that you are alone in this respect.

When networking it so easy to assume that everyone else knows each other, that they all find it so easy to strike up a conversation, to be the life & soul of the party or to present their elevator pitch. In reality, this is not the case. Yes! There will be people who know one another & are confident in talking to just about anyone. Skills & confidence like this don’t appear overnight. It takes time & practice to be a consummate networker. So be assured, there will be other people who feel just like you. It may not be easy to spot them at a well-run event, because the host should put you at ease, get you engaged & introduce you to some new people. All of a sudden, your anxiety has disappeared because your focus is elsewhere.

The virtual world means you probably don’t need to worry about transport, finding a parking place, or the venue itself. You don’t need to worry about walking into a big room filled with people you don’t know. But online networking presents a whole series of new challenges. Will I know how the networking platform works? What is the format of the event? Will it be all about the elevator pitch? Do I have a snazzy background that represents by business? Do I have the techie skills to add a background? What if there is a problem with my broadband, my camera or my microphone? Where do I get the help to resolve these issues? The list can go on & on. These new aspects to networking can heighten anxiety. Then, of course If it’s all getting a bit much, you can just hit the ‘leave’ button without anyone noticing & miss the amazing opportunity on offer. The thing to remember is that people are very forgiving in the virtual world. You don’t have to be perfect.

Online networking is definitely not the same as meeting face-to-face. It is different, but equal in stature. For some people who would find the melee of people hard to cope with, the virtual world provides an ice-breaker. A way to encourage them to dip their toes into the networking scene. You can after all sit on the side lines & observe more easily & join in when it is right for you.

This is what is so great about Business Buzz as a networking solution. There is little pressure. Our pay-as-you-go format means we are not going to ask you to sign up for membership that might not be right for you. There are no elevator pitches. PHEW! They can be super scary & add to heighten anxiety. So, the lack of the pitch is a tonic. Our hosts, the event teams & our Buzz regulars are really friendly. They will ask questions, get you talking about who you are & what you do, they will help you navigate our café inspired solution & make those all-important introductions. Buzz is relaxed & a great place to cut your networking teeth.

If you’re having a bad day, or week or even month, the last thing you might want to do is to go out & make conversation with people you don’t really know. Or even with people you do! It is so human to catastrophize about all the things that might go wrong or might be bad, to make mountains out of mole-hills or to approach networking with imposter syndrome, in that you might not belong or are not professional enough. Other business people seem to always look the part or have the right patter. The truth is the Business Buzz approach removes the need for this worry. We will be interested in you & your business irrespective of how confident you are, or how far you are into your journey to success.

Find yourself a networking group that makes you feel confident, included & supported. You can only benefit from spending time with these people when you’re not having the best of days. I truly believe that the right networking event can have a really positive impact on one’s mental health. So, if you are struggling to network right now & want some support to make it happen, then reach-out to me in my capacity as the Regional Lead for Business Buzz across Birmingham & Warwickshire. My Business Buzz teams can introduce you to our informal events, which we believe you will love. We will help guide you through the whole experience to waylay some of your fears.

James Brodie
Business Buzz for Birmingham & Warwickshire