Remember your days in school? Do you also remember the importance placed on class participation? Well, there was a reason for that. Many of my grades were based on some level of class participation. Doesn't seem fair, does it? If you know the material, do your homework, and score well on tests, why must you also talk in class? It's simple, folks! Class participation indicates interest, engagement, knowledge of the subject, and a willingness to share. It also elevates your visibility. Who were the most memorable people in your classroom? I'll bet it's the students who participated; not the ones who sat there and didn't say anything.

Are you participating in "class" – aka, your networking meetings? Why or why not? Just as in school, participation indicates that you are engaged, interested, willing to share, and not just showing up because you may get some business out of it. The more you speak up at meetings the higher level of visibility you will enjoy. Who do you remember most at networking meetings? Look around the virtual "classroom" for a moment and think of the people who come to mind. Those names don't come to mind at random. They come to you because those people left an impression. Was it something he or she said? Is it knowledge, personality, willingness to share, or some other trigger that brings those names to the forefront? I'm betting it's a combination of the three.

Why do some choose not to participate? Perhaps it’s fear or disinterest? The problem is the rest of the "class" doesn't know why some choose to stay on the sidelines and not have their voices heard. Therefore, it may be deemed that not talking equates to not caring. Those of you sitting there in fear of speaking-up, are being wrongfully judged. However, your peers in the room don't have any evidence to the contrary. How do you overcome that fear of class participation? It’s not an easy task as these are comfort zone issues. Standing up before a crowd of 20-50 people may be natural for some but it's a fear worse than death for others.

Comfort zones are great if we wish to feel good, safe, confident, secure, etc. Stepping outside can be a harsh dose of paralyzing fear. The farther out you go, the more of a shock it is. How do you overcome your comfort zone issues? My suggestion is to do it gradually, in baby steps. If done gradually, you CAN expand your comfort zone. The key is to take those small, measurable steps to overcome your fears and roadblocks to success.

Remember folks, it's alright to talk in "class."

Author's Bio: 

Don Talbert, founder of Centurion Business Coach, has a passion for networking and consultative selling. Don leverages his passion and experience to help others excel in business. As the author of The Networking Success Kit, Don applies his experiences and packages it into a practical, real world guide to networking success.