Overcoming Group Meeting Apprehension

If you are in business, chances are you attend at least one group meeting on a regular basis. The group may be industry related providing information to improve practices or a group that offers personal growth or enjoyment or, most commonly in business, a networking group.

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Whichever group you participate in, did you have a gnawing feeling in your gut before the meeting? Did you want to back out 15 minutes before stepping in? 30 minutes? 2 hours?

This may surprise those who know me, but on many, many occasions, I have talked myself out of attending a group meeting or two. Even groups I truly enjoy and in which I gain beneficial information. Today, I still attempt to talk myself out of going and my stomach still gets in knots. I’m sure you are asking how in the world can someone who is so personable feel this way.

I have tried to figure this out and still don’t have a firm grasp on why I get cold feet, even towards groups I am comfortable attending once I get there. Part of it is the fear that I will not meet the needs of the group. Another concern is trust of others: I am a genuine person and when I am introduced to new people, I trust they are just as genuine. And, unfortunately, I’ve trusted insincere people a time or two, therefore, I avoid attending group meetings because I don't want to have to figure out who is faking it and who isn't it.

Those are the two main issues I encounter, but do you know what happens when I DO talk myself into going to a meeting? Fantastic things happen to me! For example, I missed the last two monthly meetings of the Speaker Co-op in Dallas. I missed once because I was out of town. The other time, I signed up truly excited to attend, and on the morning of, my gut wrenched up in knots and I used “I’m just too busy” as my excuse not to attend.

Well, for last month's meeting, I did my usual routine and RSVP’d a week beforehand The day of the meeting came and those knots appeared in my stomach once again, and yes, I had a lot of work to do. But I forced myself to go. I resigned myself to the fact that 2 hours of my work day will be gone so I had to just deal with it.

The minute I walked in, I sat my things down and began chatting away. I was reunited with people I respect, like Gary Rifkin and Clint Fuqua, and also made new connections A few minutes later, I was called over by Jeff Klein and Jon Stotts. What they had in store caught me by complete surprise! They asked me to speak at two different Speaker Co-op meetings about marketing, my area of expertise. I was thrilled! And after the day's meeting, four people were interested in learning a bit more about my services. Yay for me!

I left the meeting thinking “Alicia, if you had not gone, you would have missed out on these opportunities.” Imagine if I had just stayed at the office. This phenomenon has happened to me a few times before. The more apprehensive I am the more opportunities I receive when I attend! Isn’t that odd?

Now, I am not saying apprehension equals more prospects. But if you are shy, fearful, or guarded, what exactly are you missing when you don’t attend? You don’t have a clue until you go. If you have struggled with this for a long time, hire a consultant in networking or a business coach to give you a new perspective. Or ask a friend to join you to keep your fears in check. Let their only purpose be attending to your needs. Either way, it’s time to face your challenges so you can move forward and make new connections.

For those who feel completely relaxed in a group setting, keep your eyes open for the apprehensive person and guide them through it. They will thank you a dozen times over.

**Please come see me as a discussion panelist at the Speakers Co-op in Dallas on Friday Nov 16th and in Fort Worth on Nov 19th. Detailed information can be found here: or call me at 800-313-5911 x304.

Alicia White is the CEO of Back of the Room Productions, home of the Speakers Briefcase™, Authors Briefcase™, and The Speaklet™ and North America's first Back of the Room Branding and Marketing Materials Provider. Copyright 2012.

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