Fashion, Tech and Beauty Insiders Share Their Strategies For Overcoming Networking Anxieties

Surprise, we have a special treat! We are so excited to introduce our brand new monthly contributor, Ryan Burch! Each month, Ryan will bring you practical advice and insights about what it takes to get your career to the next level. Today, we'll be sharing her inaugural piece and we just know you'll love it. Get to know a bit about Ryan by checking out her bio below and enjoy her first installment!

Ryan is a freelance writer & brand strategist based in Santa Monica, CA. She is the cofounder of SOLO, a website dedicated to helping women find their strongest, most authentic selves. She is a regular contributor  to Career Contessa, The Western Wild, Elana Lyn and Simply Stylist. Her writing has also been featured on Refinery29, Levo League and WeWork. 


When you think about networking—what comes to mind? Do you sail into new situations with confidence and make friends with ease? Or do you approach social situations, mixers or events with apprehension, nervousness and anxiety? If you are in the midst of building your career, it can be discouraging to watch others effortlessly speak in groups, lead conversations or deliver pitches with little-to-no (apparent) nerves. Even if you are naturally accustomed to thinking on your feet and making new connections, you may still end up in a situation that takes you out of your comfort-zone.

As part of a new collaboration with Simply Stylist, I will be addressing these kinds of networking concerns by interviewing professionals in beauty, fashion and tech. Each month, I will ask these insiders to provide their best advice, as well as share their honest (and sometimes even painful) experiences networking and making connections at different points of their career journeys.

In this issue, you’ll find interviews with:

Erica Stolman: Creator of Fashion Lush, and co-founder of blog-doo | InstagramTwitterFacebook

Alyssa Manning: Talent manager at FullScreen | Instagram

Danielle Cuccio: Private Yoga Teacher, Health Blogger and CEO of Cuccio Somatology


erica stolman

Erica Stolman (Fashion blogger and graphic/ web designer)

In your career, what has been the most effective form of networking and building connections?

Going to events such as tradeshows and conferences is a really efficient way to network, as many brands will be in attendance who are most likely looking for influencers to collaborate with. Second to that, social media is the best way to network and get your feelers out (especially on Twitter!).

What's an example of a time you "put yourself out there" in a networking setting—resulting in something positive for you and your career?

About a year and a half ago I went out on a serious limb and reached out to Forever 21. I introduced myself via email, told them about the blog and asked if they would like to hop on a call to discuss ideas for collaboration. I had zero expectations—but I knew it couldn’t hurt to ask!

A week after my initial email, they reached out to set up a call—and we’ve been working together ever since! We now do two-three monthly collaborations on their blog—usually a combination of an outfit post and DIY project. I have also done a festival event in one of there flagship stores as well as gone up to LA to meet the team!

Have there been any uncomfortable networking situations you've experienced? If so, what happened and how did you handle it?

Last year I attended the RewardStyle conference, with hundreds of big name bloggers and brands in attendance—so putting myself out there and introducing myself was obviously frightening.

They had set up brand meetings for each blogger, which made things easier, but it was still super nerve racking. The first few meetings of the day I totally bombed, I was stuttering and didn’t feel like my answers to the questions were up to par. Luckily, I brought along some branding packets with my media kit, which helped stimulate conversation and helped me seem more professional than my answers originally let on.

I also followed up with all the brands by sending them an email thanking them for their time and attaching a digital version of my media kit. In the end, I got to participate in some great collaborations and learned a lot about networking with brands!

These days, how do you handle your nerves (if any) and/or maintain professionalism when meeting new and important people?

I still get nervous meeting new and important people, but over the years I've been able to manage it mainly by being prepared. For example, if you’re meeting with a brand—do your research! Find out about their history and their marketing incentives so that you can come up with partnership ideas that will spark their interest.


alyssa nicole

Alyssa Manning: (Talent manager, with a focus on digital development and brand management)

What's an example of a time you "put yourself out there" in a networking setting—resulting in something positive for you and your career?

Last year, although I was new to the digital industry, I took a chance and reached out to an old contact that I hadn't seen or heard from in several years. Together, we pitched a project that was a little out of both of our wheelhouses—an idea for an interactive touring brand (INTOUR) that would put megastar vloggers in front of thousands of fans. The project sold through, and this year, INTOUR will be making 60 stops across the U.S.!

Have there been any uncomfortable networking situations you've experienced? If so, what happened and how did you handle it?

Every once in a while, you'll take a meeting where conversation gets lost in translation. Maybe the person you're meeting with isn't picking up what you're putting down, or, they simply aren't a fan of your line of work. Whatever the reason, I always try to steer the conversation back to them and their interests. It’s important to remember that people love to talk about themselves.

These days, how do you handle your nerves (if any) and/or maintain professionalism when meeting new and important people?

I think that really knowing your craft inside and out is the best way to work through nerves or anxiety when it comes to meeting other professionals. Becoming an expert in your field is sure to give you confidence and assuredness. In the meantime, "fake it until you make it!”

What is your advice for people that struggle with networking and making new connections?

Start small. Networking isn't necessarily about throwing yourself into a room full of new people. Ask friends or mentors for referrals to others in related fields, and then make it a point to schedule one coffee (or tea) meeting before work each week. You would be surprised how quickly you begin to perfect your introduction, and how easily ideas begin to flow!



Danielle Cuccio: (Blogger, Yoga Teacher, CEO of Cuccio Somatology)

What is your preferred form of networking?

Networking is often totally random! It’s all about putting yourself out there—could be going to a party, teaching a yoga class for free, asking friends to connect you to someone in their network— you never know when someone might open a new door for you! Also, Social Media (namely, Instagram!) has been amazing. It’s such an easy way to meet new people!

What have been your most “vulnerable” moments since launching your company and your blog?

I have had insecure moments where I go to teach a really famous client and I think, “what if they don’t like me?” But then I remember how rare it is for me to have a terrible session (how many sessions have I taught?)! It’s important to remain confident and remind myself that I know what I’m doing.

I recently had a huge meeting with NIKE, which I was nervous about, so I called my dad for advice before going in. "Just be you,” he said. “When you’re not yourself, that’s when people question you and that’s when people don’t want to work with you!” So that’s exactly what I did (and I got the job)!

What advice do you have for people struggling to feel comfortable in networking situations?

We all have vulnerable moments, and it really helps to remember that! There will always be someone “better” or someone to compare yourself to. The important part is to remember it’s 100% fine to be you—you are enough! If something doesn’t work out, it’s OK. You are working hard and putting yourself out there. There will ALWAYS be another door—another opportunity!


 So what’s the recurring theme coming from these savvy ladies? Nailing networking comes with lots of practice, confidence and commitment!

Just remember: if the thought of networking makes you uncomfortable—you’re not alone. Successful people have had to learn how to put themselves out there and you will too!