Hate Networking? You Must Read This.

In life and in business, the truth is that networks will be important. It’s also true that everybody is going to struggle at times with networking, even when we know it’s good for our careers and businesses. 
 
The upside for those of us that find little pleasure in the venture is that Gen Y entering the workforce is changing the shape and nature of business — including networking.
 
We’re rejecting traditional networking as we’ve been told to embrace it — it’s a thing of the past. Not only is it archaic, we’re realizing now how antithetical it is to it’s purpose to have such things as ‘professional networks’.
 
Why should it be that we have separate networks to which we look for support and opportunity? Our colleagues have the potential to make our personal challenges so much easier with support and vice versa our friends often provide us with the most interesting opportunities.
 
So here’s a new way to think about networking. Stop thinking about it. For most of us, trying to follow networking techniques will make us awkward and at worst they’ll make us seem manipulative and insincere.
 
Instead, here’s my own 4-Step-Guide to not thinking about networking.

1. Portray an image of success

People like to be around other successful people. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that most people aren’t desirous of befriending people who focus on their failures.
 
In this context success can be whatever you define. The important bit is to own it as your success and be proud of what you’ve achieved towards your own goals.
 
Let people see you enjoy your success. It doesn’t need to be anything big but Australians in particular really struggle with this one (see: Tall Poppy Syndrome). We like to cut ourselves down. Start out small — next time someone compliments you on your work, try giving them a smile and saying, ‘Thank you’ (bonus points if you can avoiding following it up with a ‘but it was really due to X’).

2. Be open to meeting new people

Be open to meeting new people in any capacity. It’s a bit like Tinder. Sure, people are generally online with a single purpose in mind but you really don’t know who you’re going to meet until you’ve met them. It could be your new best friend or business partner! Likewise, you might not think you’ll meet your next business partner at your friend’s Australia Day BBQ but really…who knows?
 
Just keep an open mind with everybody you meet and try not to put them in a box too quickly (and before you’ve even spoken to them).

3. Share and ask questions

Now that you’re not preoccupied trying to figure out your new friend’s utility, you don’t have to worry about whether you’re saying too much or not enough. Be as genuinely curious as you are and share your experiences as far as you’re comfortable.
 
Particularly when it comes to business networking, our peers are often viewed as our competition and we treat our interactions that way. Think instead about the potential opportunities these same people might bring your way.

4. Say ‘yes’ more often than you say ‘no’

Say ‘yes’ more often than you say ‘no’ — quite literally. Keep a tally of how many invitations you say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to in a month. The benefits are bound to be plenteous, I’ll leave it to you to tell me where it leads.

Gabrielle


Originally published at www.faculty.life on January 24, 2016.