Networking’s problem? The word “networking.” It sounds like work, feels like work—it has work in the damn name!
So let’s take it out. The truth is, networking isn’t a work thing, like you’ve always thought and dreaded. It’s a life thing. Networking is all, and only, about connecting with other people, and you were born to do that.
I’m not trying to flatter you (though I will if it helps!). You weren’t born to master Photoshop or balance budgets; the only thing you were born hardwired to do, besides breathe, eat, and freak out when something’s chasing you, is to connect with other people. You are automatically a natural at networking.
That’s the first shift that changes everything, because once networking isn’t tied to a specific work goal, it gets a lot less greasy and desperate. You approach networking as a chance to connect with people, start conversations, and keep conversations going, you get so much more than a new contract or job lead.
Learn so much more about how networking doesn’t have to suck anymore in my new eBook, “Take the Work Out of Networking.” Get your free copy when you subscribe here.
The Secret Power of Networking
Here’s the secret—the great secret—about networking-as-connection (instead of that thing you have to do for work). It makes you more independent, because you have a web of connections that can help you leave work and find work. It makes you a better employee, because you bring that web of connections into your job, with all their expertise and resources. It makes you more interdependent, available to both give and receive help, which is important because no one ever works alone. Anyone who’s achieved a thing worth having has done it with the help of someone else.
In other words, no one is “above” networking. We will never not need each other. That’s not a bad thing—it’s a good thing. Look, work is seasonal. Maybe you do a winter at that job, a couple of summers at this job. Then that set of tasks is over. But people are perennial.
But, you insist, networking events are still queasy, glad-handing affairs. You’re not wrong. when you take our natural knack for connecting and put it in a conference room or hotel ballroom, feed it rubbery hors d’oeuvres, and surround it with a crowd all trying to get ahead for their job, yeah, it’s going to feel exhausting and, oh, a little gross. So you come home after a night of “networking” and just feel…spent.
The second shift that changes everything
If you want to transform your networking experience, go in to give, not get. Instead of looking for solutions or fixes to your problems, go in as a solution, as a resource, as someone people would benefit from being around.
Stop going in looking to “close” business, and start going in with the intent to open—your mind, opportunities, conversations. Think of networking as laying down paths to places that will reveal themselves later, as opposed to ladder rungs you need to climb. No one likes a social climber. Mainly because no one likes the feeling of being stepped on—or clung to.
Good will, integrity, and a desire to connect in a meaningful way contributes to the fiber of a truly weatherproof network for yourself and others. Know that the efforts you make at doing this, particularly when you lead with curiosity, compassion, and an honest desire to help, prove the difference between someone who’s floundering and someone with the capacity to thrive.
Got it? Now go get your free copy of Take the Work out of Networking, and then get back in there and grab a bacon-wrapped cheese puff with someone new. Let me know how it goes.