Networking – is it time to leave your comfort zone?

28 May 2024

Nikita Phillips, Candidate Support & Business Development Adviser, BTS, tells how networking once took her right out of her comfort zone, until she realised the benefits it gave her and she developed a few tricks to get herself over the discomfort line.

I’ve been fortunate enough to speak at several Technical Insight Seminars organised by Professional Paraplanner recently, and let me tell you, they have been absolutely amazing events.

Believe it or not, prior to joining the team at BTS, networking was not something I took part in. In fact, if anything, I avoided networking like the plague.

The thought of entering a room full of strangers in an unfamiliar setting seemed impossible to me. Whenever there was an opportunity arose, I would come up with excuses, only to regret it later when I saw pictures from the events and I’d experience a serious case of FOMO!

In this article, I’m going to discuss the importance of networking, and why leaving your comfort zone is a good thing.

What is networking?

Building and nurturing connections with other professionals in your field is what networking is all about. It can play a crucial role in advancing your career by broadening your horizons, opening up new opportunities, and growing your professional circle.

I used to make the excuse that I didn’t need to attend networking events because I wasn’t in search of a job. I mistakenly believed that networking was only beneficial for job seekers. I have learnt that networking serves a much greater purpose than this.

Lifelong Friendships

It’s incredible how easily my little boy can make friends at the park or soft play. Why is it so challenging for adults to do the same?

Networking is a wonderful way to cultivate lifelong friendships. I’ve observed this at the events I’ve attended lately – strangers at the beginning, but by the end, exchanging contact details and promising to keep in touch.

Many of my own friendships originated in the workplace, but as I now work fully remotely, networking events present a great opportunity to broaden my social connections.

Industry Celebrities

Our industry is filled with remarkable individuals, who I like to refer to as ‘industry celebrities’. Attending networking events allows you to connect with these extraordinary people, allowing you to gain valuable insights and advice that you wouldn’t have access to otherwise.

I’ve had the chance to enhance my understanding in various areas through the recent events I’ve attended. It has been a valuable opportunity to learn from individuals who have more experience than I do.

Confidence is key

Being naturally introverted, I’ve discovered that attending networking events is a fantastic way to boost my confidence. Stepping out of my comfort zone has been key to my personal growth. Building new connections can really boost your confidence in your own skills and capabilities.

Follow the leader

Great leaders excel in building relationships. They understand the importance of connecting with others, effective communication and active listening. By stepping out of your comfort zone and enhancing your presence, you can establish yourself as a respected leader.

Don’t let shyness hold you back!

If you’re like me a year ago, you may be wondering how to network when you’re shy. Here are some great tips:

  • Just show up – Simply attending a networking event is a big step. By being there, you may find that others will approach you and soon enough you’ll be networking.
  • Find common ground – Events like the Technical Insight Seminars I recently attended brought together Paraplanners from different companies. If you find an event where you share common interests with other attendees, it will be easier to network as you’ll likely be talking about something you are passionate about.
  • Bring a friend – Invite a colleague to come along to the event. Having a friend there can help kickstart conversations and give you the confidence to go solo next time.

Once you dive into networking, you will see the value networking brings. You’ll  hopefully have lots of fun too!


Bespoke Training Solutions have been supporting regulated exams for 20 years this year! Known as ‘the exam experts’ within the industry, BTS provide support for the CII regulated exams by way of study guides, e-learning resources, and workshops for the full R0 suite and many AF and J0 units.

Visit and check out the brand-new Careers Zone for study plans, answers to exam FAQs and lots more to support your journey.

IMPORTANT NOTE: BTS’s Natalie Dawes is undertaking a wing walk 

Natalie is undertaking a wing walk – that’s right stepping out onto the wing of a plane and staying there while it’s up in the air (crazy but true) – in aid of St Barnabas House, a charity providing palliative care to adults with life-limiting illnesses.

If you’d like to find out more and/or support her you can do so here: Natalie Dawes is fundraising for St Barnabas House (

Professional Paraplanner