Raise Your Hand if You Hate Networking
(this post is by Dr. Catalina Rojas, PCDNetwork’s Director of Innovation, and part of our 2017 Career Series to provide students and professionals with the tools and resources to scale a high impact social-change career).
Lets get it all out and cut the pleasantries because with the title of this blog there is no point in hiding what I am trying to say.
When we were designing the PCDN Career Series for 2017 at the end of last year we promised to give you real and useful information. To recognize that the nature of employment is ever changing –and not necessarily for the better, to know that getting a job –is definitely not easy especially in the social change sector. This is the reason why we decided to put so many hours of work into it. To help you navigate and succeed in recognition of your commitment to do something better in this world. “We do the work, you change the world”, we say here in PCDNetwork.
Wouldn’t you rather be in your pajamas, watching Netflix, eating your favorite meal, or reading an amazing book watching the rain hit the windows with your pet? In my case, I would prefer to be doing laundry or washing dishes than “networking”. But wait a minute. I work at PCDNetwork and we are telling you over and over how CRITICAL it is to network to land a job. It is definitely key practice in the social change sector and no amount of perfect resume or cover letter will guarantee you a job. But what to do if you hate networking? Do you? It’s ok. I will not even get fired. I just know I do (hate it).
Networking for me is the opposite of the pajama, Netflix, relaxing scenario. Usually you are in business clothes (uncomfortable), customarily you are standing and you juggle a glass of (wine, water), with some inedible and miniscule food. You have to sound pleasant, witty, casual and insightful. On top of that you have to hand your business cards to which I ask: MY HANDS ARE ALREADY BEYOND BUSY. Do I have spinach in my teeth? TOO MUCH going on.
Please don’t assume I am this quiet introvert. I am this fierce 5’2 loud extrovert Latina but that is why I don’t get networking in the U.S. Are we partying? No, it’s networking. Oh, so are we working? No, its this in-between zone where you are to find interesting common areas with total strangers and “work the room”. What on earth is work the room?
What to do if you hate networking but you need a job? Here, I leave you with 5 tips to how to (still) get a job even though you hate networking.
1. Expand your notion of what networking is
The reality is that not ALL forms of networking imply that you should be in uncomfortable clothes, standing, eating little while handing business cards. You have networks ALL OVER. From your high school, college, grad school friends, your neighbors, your family, and past employers. Should I go on? Map out who you know and see if in any of these networks there is someone with expertise or can help you in your job search. But don’t be a taker. Think how YOU can be of assistance to others.
2. Recognize you hate it
Don’t hate yourself if you don’t enjoy it. Some people love it, more power to them. read last weeks blogpost on loving to network. You can establish, grow and maintain all sorts of networks that don’t involve the dreaded cocktail scenario. You are good. The point here is to know that in order to get a job you need to be connected. The how is of less importance.
3. Be yourself
But if you end up in a cocktail scenario, own it. Don’t fake it, don’t pout. Stay for as long as your soul allows you too. Chances are you find someone with whom to get a bit of conversation or you leave. But, be yourself, pretending to love it or pretending to be someone you are not is PRETTY NOTORIOUS.
4. Who are your existing networks
People with whom you went to school with are CRITICAL. These are NOT just friendships to have silly memories with. These are YOUR people. Keep in touch, again, don’t be just a taker. Keep up your relationships. Also, polish your profile online and connect in as many spaces as you can: in particular LinkedIn and PCDNetwork, are great ways to connect with other professionals, mentors and connections that you facilitate introductions, review material and help you get to where you are
5. Recognize growth in uncomfortable situations
I end up with a mature note here. Put yourself in uncomfortable situations that you hate and you will experience growth as a person. In this case, just hating networking is probably not enough but knowing how you (me) can personally grow. A networking event is a great training ground to learn how to listen. Really listen. I would go with an attitude of learning from others, of asking people questions and (this is hard for me) letting them talk without interrupting them and listening. If, and if I have something of value to offer, I would talk. That’s my challenge. Find out what will be yours.
Ok. I have said my piece. Do you hate networking? How do you still manage to navigate the fact that interconnectedness is key in today’s market? I am eager to hear your thoughts
Director of Innovation, PCDNetwork