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Networking and Anxiety: Navigating the Schmooze Culture with an Anxiety Disorder

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Anxiety. Its real, and it’s really misunderstood. The face of anxiety can seem social. It can seem successful and carefree but yet underneath it can be bubbling to the surface in so many different forms. For me it was in the form of Bulimia. I would get so upset and anxious in private from events I would literally Barf.

Networking is a necessary evil, but for some of us it’s so hard we self-destruct. Publicly or privately we have to defend ourselves while not destroying career opportunities. Here are 6 tips that I found help me for coping with the social aspect of acting and filmmaking.

  1. Buddy System:

Use the buddy system. “Plus-one” it and bring a supportive friend. It helps so much because it divides the attention. It also gives you an ally. One of the biggest issues that most people have is talking about themselves. Well, with a buddy they can introduce and gush about you and you can do the same, tag-teaming that networking brunch like no other. Be sure to bring someone that has your back though, and that doesn’t cause more anxiety. Believe me, it matters who you bring. Bringing a selfish friend or frenemy to an event is never and I mean ever a good idea.

  1. Find your center.

Be sure to center yourself before going into a situation that can be stressful. For me that’s running through a quick 10-minute meditation on my Calm App (They even have a commute mediation) and then blasting a power song on the way to the event. For you it may just be journaling or watching a feel-good episode of “Friends” whatever it is. Get to the best mood you can be in.

  1. Define your goals.

I find it so much less chaotic when you define your goals for an event. Me and my friends before a big important event or weekend make a list of things that are in our power to do. Maybe it’s giving out 10 cards or talking to so and so about such and such. Going in there with a game plan means you aren’t entering a room with this panic of “what should I do.” It means you know what you want from this event and the steps you can take to make it a satisfying and worthwhile venture.

  1. Look your best.

Really this is the hardest for me. I tend to just go, hope no one looks at me so I stay comfortable, but then panic when I get a pic taken or see someone. Just put an effort in. You’ll feel so much less self-conscious when you look your best. Plus, when you wear an outfit that is kick ass you feel kick ass.

  1. Don’t drink more than two drinks.

Just don’t. It may make you more loose and ready to mingle but then it also opens the door to doing things you regret. It also increases anxiety later on. So, don’t crash and burn because of an open bar.

  1. Have your business cards ready.

Nothing is worse than when someone is actually digging you and you aren’t prepared. Sure, the easiest way to get out of this is to say I ran out of cards, but you want their card and they should have yours cause it increases your chances of a connection. That way if someone loses your card you have theirs, etc…

The most important thing to remember is to make your life easier. The more prep you’ve done before like looking good and knowing your goals, the better chances you have of relaxing into the situation and maybe even having some fun.

Anastasia Washington

About Anastasia Washington

Anastasia Washington is an actress, writer, producer, director, curvy positive model, and I’m sure there’s some other things she does. You can listen in to her awesome podcasts “Legion of Leia”, “Nerd Up or Shut Up”, “Its Probably Aliens”, “Geek Girl Social Club”, “Nerds in Lala Land” on iTunes and more! With over 30 years in the biz as an actor, performer, comedian, singer, she brings the honesty and laughs. You can follow her on twitter at @AnastasiaW on instagram at @Anastasiawash and on her hilarious Youtube Channel Anastationtv! Or head on over to www.anastasiawashington.com for all things Anastasia.