Stop Being a Pest!
How to network in an organic way
As an introvert, networking is one word which at best, makes me uncomfortable and, at worst, makes me cringe. I keep oscillating between strategically meeting people and letting the universe bring people it thinks I need my way.
But as I reminisce on my network, I realize where the missing link is for many. These days, people have turned networking into an aggressive social climbing where every influence they meet is a piece of their puzzle. They are only thinking about what they can get from people.
Where networking is concerned, there has to be a fine balance between being intentional and also letting your connections be organic.
I was introduced to an international journalist by a friend who worked at an international organization in the UK five years ago. At the time, he was looking to start an NGO and wanted someone on the ground to help manage things. It felt like an exciting opportunity, and knowing someone of his caliber was going to be beneficial to my career.
Things turned out differently than my thoughts. The thought that maybe I had met the person that’ll catapult my career to the place where I have always wanted didn’t happen. I, however, got gigs from him, but I still kept in touch and let things progress organically.
Then just last year, he needed me to do a gig for him on some stories he was covering, I agreed, and it turned out some way that I got interviewed on a global platform. I didn’t ask for it, I didn’t beg for it, I didn’t manipulate it to get it, it just happened.
The current mindset of many when networking is concerned is one of greed, entitlement, and (using people).
I learned some lessons from my experiences so far:
- Put yourself in places to meet people you desire to network with but let the interaction be organic. When you meet people, and you read up about them, you are focused on what you want to get from them to the point where they can smell it from a mile away. However, when you let your interactions be organic, you’ll establish a more symbiotic relationship with people with whom your interests align.
- That the relationship isn’t converting now doesn’t mean it won’t. You want to achieve your goal fast, and you believe this person has the key, but how do you make them not feel used? Don’t be in a hurry to milk your connections. Give it time, invest in it, then when they have an opportunity they think you’ll be a great fit for, you’ll be on their radar, and you’ll be deserving.
- Don’t be entitled. For this, I like to use myself as an example, I find people who stress me annoying, and I’ll probably withdraw access to me. They are busy building the life they want for themselves, and you should not expect them to take you on. If they choose to do it, then it’s great, if not, let it be.
- Volunteer. I did a lot of volunteering when I was just starting out. Especially when you don’t have money to give, your greatest resource is time. I once volunteered with a woman on a project she was working on, and much later, I needed her to introduce me to someone, she did it without flinching, and that introduction has born fruits for me.
- Keep building. The best way to have a great network is to keep building it. The more people you know, the greater your chances of getting things done when you need them. You might not even know how you’ll need them, but surely even if they can’t directly help you, they know somebody who knows somebody who can help you.
- Goes without saying, be a genuinely good person. I often wonder when people want to cheat or manipulate others if they think they are idiots. We are energetic beings, and most people can read you. if you are genuine, they’ll see it, and they’ll find you trustworthy enough to work with or to do business with.