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Despite knowing that professional networking is good for our careers, many of us cringe at the thought of it. Here are five ways to master ...
Do you feel like running away at the mention of the word ‘networking’?
Adam Grant in his book Give and Take mentions a study that had a group of people imagine that they were making friends at a cocktail party, and another group imagine that they were networking. The networking group felt so dirty that they rated toothpaste and soap more positively.
Networking is hard. It conjures up the image of awkward or sales-pitching conversations with strangers. It is harder for people who are not good at making small talk.
We want to avoid feeling bored and clumsy and getting rejected. Nothing seems worth the agony that comes with the thoughts about networking.
According to HubSpot, 85% of the open positions are filled through networking. According to CNBC, 70% of the jobs are never published publicly.
However, despite knowing that networking is good for us professionally, many of us cringe at the thought of it. We hide behind our busyness to avoid it. At times, we go to events where we already know people and hang with them to tick the box that we have networked!
What if we could take the fake and the flake out of networking and make genuine connections instead?
Building connections is a long game. It is about creating the ‘know, like, and trust’ about yourself. Here are a few things you may want to try if you dread networking.
If you are a beginner, pick forums that network about things you like, e.g., gardening, running, serving food to the needy, teaching Maths to school children, etc.
Spending time with people, who have common interests, will help you not be tongue-tied and build deeper connections.
Volunteer your time in a non-profit organization, help organize an event, or create an activity club for people trying to build a career in your area of expertise. You will raise your profile by helping others.
As you play to your strengths, you will learn, contribute, meet people you can spark a connection with, and enjoy being in that forum.
Offer to help others without being asked. You learn as you help others and enhance your problem-solving abilities. You can also help by connecting them to others in your network or guiding them to the resources they need.
Likewise, you build your equity within your network and open doors for this network to expand.
Before attending a professional networking event, try to get to learn about the people on the attendee list in advance. Plan who you want to get connected to and why. Keep the list small. Create a game plan, and find
Be curious, open-minded, and willing to listen. People like to talk about themselves. Ask questions and listen to them intently. You gain different perspectives on life and discover how others see the world.
Finally, know that you are not the only one who dreads networking. Make yourself comfortable by finding a style that suits you — volunteer, help others, share your expertise, set your networking objective in advance of the event, and plan to achieve it.
Remember, your purpose is to build genuine connections. Happy networking!
Image Source: svetikd via Getty Images on Canva Pro
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