Eliminate Nervousness when Meeting People for the First Time

Create more success; network effectively

Create more success; network effectively

“I just feel dread when it comes to networking events,” my friend Stephanie said.

“I hear you. What specifically bothers you about walking into a networking event?” I asked.

“Oh – I’m not sure. I guess it’s just so much pressure to try to impress people,” Stephanie said.

For years, I have trained clients and college students in how to have Recovery Methods so they do not have to fear making a mistake when meeting people for the first time. (I teach Recovery Methods in my workshop/keynote address Relax Your Way Networking.)

The major point here is that you remove a lot of nervousness, when you have Recovery Methods and avoid “trying to appear perfect.”

When I teach this material in a workshop or a keynote address, I focus on this catchphrase: “Recover and Release Jitters.”

We use the C.A.L.M. process of using Recovery Methods:

C – correct “that’s not what I meant”
A – allow time with water
L – let them help you
M – move them to “forgive”

  1. Correct “that’s not what I meant”

What if you knew how to recover from any mistake in what you say? Here’s a powerful method: Say, “That’s not what I meant to say. What I meant to say is ______.” And you tell them the correct words.

My clients report that this method is so helpful whether meeting someone new at a networking event—or even in giving a speech.

Now it’s your turn.

Will you use the phrase “That’s not what I meant to say. What I meant to say is ___”? Or will you modify this phrase to something you’re comfortable using?

  1. Allow time with water

Release yourself from having to say something immediately. Get time to think. How? Take a drink of water from a glass that you hold in your hand. (By the way, drinking water is safer than something like red wine that may stain someone’s clothing.)

We notice that 40% of the population identifies themselves as introverts. Introverts like to think before they talk. The solution is to take a drink of water.

When you walk up to a group of people, you can nod and smile—and take a drink of water while you’re listening to the person who is currently speaking. Then, you can find a way to introduce yourself and enter the conversation. For example, you can say, “Oh – that’s interesting. I’m wondering about the XY project. By the way, I’m [your name.]”

Now it’s your turn.

Will you rehearse with a friend, so that you move smoothly up to a group—while you have your glass of water in hand? Practice how you will join the conversation.

  1. Let them help you

If you find yourself mispronouncing a word or not knowing how it is correctly pronounced, you might simply ask, “How do you pronounce that word?”

My point here is that it looks worse when someone misuses a word and continues onward oblivious to his or her error.

For example, here is how to ask for a bit of help. I have a client who has dyslexia. So when she is autographing books, she says simply, “I have dyslexia. I’ll need you to spell your name one more time—a bit slower. Thank you.”

Now it’s your turn.

How can you gently ask for help? If you have an accent, perhaps, you might speak slower and even check in with the person to see if they heard you correctly. For example, with my clients who have accents, we sometimes switch from the word “result” to an easy-to-pronounce word: “outcome.”

  1. Move them to “forgive”

Many of us are afraid that we may come across too strongly.

You’re supposed to be excited about what you offer (a product/service).

Still, some people may recoil. If you see the person stiffen or flinch a bit, say, “Forgive me, I was just excited that ____.”

Here are examples:

  • Forgive me, I was just excited that you may find this method useful when writing your book.
  • Forgive me, I was just excited because it’s fun to help people do ______

Now it’s your turn.

Will you use the phrase “Forgive me, I was just excited that ___”?

Is there some way you want to modify the phrase?

(We avoid saying “I’m sorry” because it is less active. That is, when you say, “I’m sorry,” the other person does not have much to do. Additionally, saying “I’m sorry” comes across as one has done something really wrong. Finally, “I’m sorry” often sounds too ingratiating.)

Remember to rehearse your Recovery Methods and you’ll significantly eliminate a large amount of nervousness. Why? Because you know that you know how to adapt well to bumpy times in a first meeting with someone.

In my interviews with top successful people, I find that they have developed ways to be at ease in first meetings with people.

You can rehearse and improve your networking skills.

This above material is from my workshops/keynote addresses: Relax Your Way Networking. See some strategies in this 1.5 min video:



Tom Marcoux
CEO (leading teams in United Kingdom, India and USA)

Speaker-author of 29 books (with free chapters on Amazon.com )
Executive Coach
Spoken Word Strategist
Author of Your Power Path to Freedom, Success and Happiness (Free Chapter when you CLICK HERE )
Author of Create Your Best Life: Unleash Your Charisma and Confidence to Change the World (Free Chapter when you CLICK HERE)
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