By Dorothy Tannahill-Moran, Introvert Whisperer
Let’s face it; very few people really like/love networking. You’re probably one of them. Taking the time out of your busy schedule to go to an event with a bunch of people you barely know just so you can feel socially awkward isn’t fun.
Is it really that important? And does it have to be that painful?
Answer: YES and NO
Why Networking is always important:
- Your network is and always will be your biggest source of personal and professional support. We need each other.
- 80%+ of all jobs were landed because of connections and network.
- Your network can supply you with important resources and information to do your job and innovate new ideas.
- Your BFF and other friends are part of your network. Your network is people you have relationships with no matter if it is personal or professional. People come and go from your network due to changing circumstances throughout your life, which means if you don’t “replenish” your network it will shrink.
- If you are a contractor or own a business (or plan to) you will very dependent on your network to generate business.
- People who are well networked achieve more accelerated career growth, promotions, and opportunities.
Let’s summarize: Unless you have plans to make the same salary, do the same job and live in isolation you need to network.
Now on to the real issue: You hate to network and it makes you uncomfortable.
I get it. Like many of you reading this, I too, am an introvert. Socializing and being around people sucks the life out of you. Then, there’s the problem of knowing what to say or how to approach people you don’t know. Of course, if you break through that barrier, there’s the uncomfortable next step, which sometimes seems like stalking.
Are we having fun yet? 🙂
Here are the most pain-free things I know to build your network and nurture them.
- Network in place – There are probably many people you interact with on a day-to-day basis that you are probably ignoring. It might be people in other departments, vendors or customers. If you pay attention, you come across people every day but don’t pause to get to know them. We all like to be noticed so start noticing! A side note, getting to know these people saves you time as you don’t have to do anything different other than pay attention and be friendly.
- Backtrack – Yes, you can go back to people you used to work with and go to school with. (I just reconnected with a man I used to go to grade school with) You already have things in common which will make reconnecting easier and faster.
- Where you are a regular – If you are a creature of any habit like most people, you probably frequent various businesses where you could easily get to know people. This could be the gym you work out in, the coffee shop, sports bar or Dr. office. Time to take that extra couple of minutes to chat someone up and introduce you. Bam! Fast networking.
- Your hobby or past time – Do you ride horses? Or snowboard? Maybe politically inclined? There is a group out there just waiting for you to join in and have fun. Commonality is a critical component to all relationships and this becomes a natural attractor and point of conversation. It doesn’t matter if the relationship is professionally based or not, the foundation of every relationship is that you have something in common and this is a good place to start.
In recent years, generic networking groups have sprung up all over the place making us all think we need to embrace them as THE model of networking. They really aren’t because the basics for relationships are usually missing. They miss the common thread that creates relationships with the ones I mentioned above. This type of gathering is difficult to find your place in and rarely makes you feel comfortable.
The key to networking is to make it easy to do, doesn’t take huge chunks of time and is an activity that you enjoy. If it has those traits, you’re more likely to do it. Your future-self will be glad you figured it out.
For other actionable career advice from Dorothy Tannahill-Moran go to: www.introvertwhisperer.com