Start Digital to Come Out of Your Shell

Overcoming social anxiety with digital tools

Traditional networking events can be pretty intimidating for people with social anxiety. The idea of mingling in crowded, unpredictable settings is enough to make anyone nervous. Thankfully, the digital world offers plenty of ways to network that are much less stressful, making it easier for those who are socially anxious or introverted. 

Always remember, however, that the strongest connections are forged in person, physically. Use digital platforms and tools to help ease you into a relationship building groove, but with the ultimate goal of empowering yourself to do so offline as well. Making such a transition can be made easier with a digital companion, like Covve’s personal CRM which empowers you in every interaction and prepares you for every conversation.

Why Social Anxiety Makes Networking Tough

Social anxiety isn’t just being shy; it’s a condition that can seriously impact your ability to handle social interactions, especially networking. The fear of being judged, the pressure to make a good impression, and the overwhelming nature of typical networking events can all keep socially anxious people from taking advantage of these opportunities. The first step to tackling this is understanding these challenges and finding new ways to approach them.

Cultivating Your Network Online

The online world gives us lots of options to ease the stress of traditional networking:

  • Asynchronous Communication Platforms: Tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams let you communicate on your own terms. You can control when and how you engage, helping manage anxiety by giving you time to think before you respond.
  • Professional Networking Sites: LinkedIn is a great example. It’s a low-pressure environment where you can network without the need for face-to-face interactions. You can build your profile, choose your connections, and engage at your own pace, ideal for those with social anxiety.
  • Virtual Reality (VR) Networking: Platforms like AltspaceVR and VRChat offer immersive environments where you interact through avatars. This separation can lessen the fear of being judged and create a more comfortable space for connecting.
  • Niche Online Forums and Communities: Sites like Reddit, Stack Exchange, and Quora allow you to engage with specific topics and industries. Focusing on shared interests rather than personal interaction reduces social pressure and helps build meaningful connections based on mutual passions and expertise.
  • Event Platforms with Virtual Options: Tools like Meetup offer virtual events that are less daunting than in-person gatherings. You can control how much you engage, and the format often includes features that manage your visibility and involvement.

Benefits of Digital Networking for Social Anxiety

For those with social anxiety, diving into digital networking is a great way to build confidence and get started. The ability to edit messages, control visibility, and choose when to engage helps manage anxiety symptoms.

Having more control over these aspects reduces the immediate stress of real-time, face-to-face communication, making networking less intimidating and more manageable.

Digital platforms can also act as a kind of therapy, gradually exposing you to social settings. By focusing on what you’re saying rather than how you look or act in public, these platforms help lower the anxiety associated with personal appearance and behavior. Over time, this can build confidence in social interactions and reduce overall anxiety.

Moving Forward

While traditional face-to-face networking is still important, digital platforms provide great alternatives for those with social anxiety. These tools help people navigate networking more comfortably and effectively, allowing them to build professional relationships and advance their careers in a less intimidating way.

Using digital tools like Covve’s personal CRM companion, they can support your efforts in the transition from online to offline, making the next interaction less anxious. It helps you track your interactions, keep important notes on precious contacts, and effortlessly break the ice to get the next conversation going. Starting to cultivate connections online is a great way to come out of your shell, but it’s important to make the effort to create a hybrid relationship building practicing, meaning both offline and online.

If you’re not yet ready to dive into building relationships through digital means, subscribe to our monthly newsletter, The Networker, for more tips!

Written on 03 Jul 2024.

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