How to Build Professional Relationships and Move Past Fear and Self-Doubt

By 1stFive Archives
Cover image for  article: How to Build Professional Relationships and Move Past Fear and Self-Doubt

Are you afraid at age 65 that you will still need to work, or that you’ll be stuck working until you drop? Follow this three-tier strategy to earn lasting career satisfaction and the financial stability you crave.

Prioritize Your Activities

Before your stomach clenches at the thought of running yourself into the ground over the course of your career, relax. Leave behind the idea of controlling every moment and instead, prioritize.

This is how it works. Break down your activities into categories that you can balance throughout each week -- mental and physical health, family, financial well-being, new business prospects -- and organize them into a schedule. Make sure to leave at least two time blocks flexible and ready for opportunity. A self-management system is easy to integrate into your personal and professional life because it sets up a natural flow of information, planning and action that carries you through a clear and comprehensive performance strategy.

People who use a management system are very effective; they focus on high-leverage, high-priority actions and therefore are never very “busy.” They’re self- managed, self-directed, self-motivated and self-productive.

Finding time to do what you say you will do will build client loyalty. Again and again, you’ll hear variations of this: “I can’t believe that as busy as you are, you still found time to …” Each time, it will be the voice of a happy client, colleague or friend cheering you on.

Target the Right Contacts

Stop looking at your job as the source of financial security. Jobs come and go as companies merge, the economy shifts and markets and technology advance. Having a secure future also means developing lifetime and career-long relationships, whether amongst your alma mater, industry associations, community or friends.

Over time, I developed a here and there relationship with “Linda.” She worked long hours, 7 am to 9 pm often seven days a week and was never available to network. Her work was her life and she rarely attended association meetings and social functions. When her company was suddenly sold, she was replaced by the nephew of the new owner. She decided to take a year off. Six months later, her car was repossessed and she was about to lose her home. Her confidence eroded. She never recognized the wisdom of the adage: It’s not what you know but who knows what you know.

Our most valuable contacts are those who take us with them from job to job. In the end, I advised Linda to call everyoneshe knew in the business and ask if any of them had project work. She was able to secure one project after another, hold onto her home and, over the next year, she was able to stabilize herself and her career.

This is not to suggest that as long as you’re a nice person you can transform your hefty roster of acquaintances into loyal business contacts later in your career. Strategic long-term planning with your contact base is critical to your career and financial security. Beware of the penalties if you do not commit to continually training and retraining yourself: The result is isolation and depleted self-confidence.

Move Past Fear and Self-Doubt

Conquering fear and self-doubt comes from experience. Common fears include public speaking, cold calling or accessing new relationships, dealing with intimidating people, closing sales and writing business correspondence and reports. A way to move past anxiety is to prepare thoroughly and do what needs to be done. If you remain frozen in a state of anxiety, not only will you deprive yourself of success, but you will also lower your self-esteem in the process.

Mental rehearsals can be a great strategy to move past fear and anxiety. Here is how it works: Say you are intimidated about meeting the president of a large company. Walk through the steps one at a time in your mind.  Sit back and visualize yourself picking up the phone and calling the president’s secretary and scheduling an appointment. Now imagine yourself organizing your business cards, laptop and materials for your presentation. Visualize yourself entering the building, riding the elevator and introducing yourself. You shake hands, take a seat and engage in conversation. Your presentation progresses and you request a commitment for the next meeting. You leave the office alive and well.

As you take yourself through this exercise, relax and take a deep breath between each step. If you feel anxious, stop for a few seconds, then start again when you are able to build your confidence. The ability to move through fear is anchored in preparation and knowledge. If you are prepared and have rehearsed all possible outcomes you will be able to place your nerves on the backburner.

Improve your current performance with these three strategies. Are you prioritizing your time, targeting personal and professional contacts, and taking initiative to move past any fear that might hinder your success in life? Get ready to start today! The steps you take today will increase your career satisfaction and lead you to greater success and security.

Image at top courtesy of Corbis. The opinions and points of view expressed in this commentary are exclusively the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaVillage/MyersBizNet management or associated bloggers.

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