Some people are innately resistant to the concept of networking owing to either their belief that they lack the skill sets of a social butterfly or it’s their mindset that networking serves no good. However that’s not true. To network means to be well-informed, but it is overshadowed by networking myths most believe in. One must understand that there’s so much new to learn each time you interact with people from within or outside your industry. If you continue to believe in the so called myths about networking you will hold yourself back from deriving benefits meeting people.
Let’s debunk a few myths right away.
Networking Myth 1: I have to attend social dos to network.
No. Networking doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be physically present with a glass of wine that lasts the entire event. We’re living in a digital age and there’s so much you can portray (remember only the truth!) to the world. Take LinkedIn for instance. You have a swarm of people who market themselves through impressive profiles (make it as detailed as possible), contribute in various groups and with time have also established themselves as influencers/thought leaders. To begin with, meet them in real world, at least make yourself visible digitally and then switch. Blogging and tweeting also amount to profiling. Project yourself the right way.
Networking Myth 2: I’m not a people’s person. Networking is for extroverts only.
You may not be good at making small talks, but that doesn’t mean you lack social skills. Being shy can work to your advantage. Understand that there are a mix of people who attend social networking events. Some are good talkers while others are listeners. And, if you can introduce yourself and talk about your work and your skills then half the battle with your mindset is already won. Hear when you must and talk when you’re ready or find it opportune to market your personal brand.
Networking Myth 3: Networking means finding people who can hire me.
Not at all! You don’t have to screamingly pick people who are decision makers who have the power to absorb you in their projects. You probably will come across as a parasite. You need to redefine networking as an opportunity to learn from a diverse set of people available there. Get market insights unique to your industry and give as much as you take. Give inputs too. Call it collaborative learning event which requires reciprocity. Develop a reputation.
Networking Myth 4: It’s about giving away and hoarding as many business cards as I can.
If networking were all about that then all of us would have been successful beyond imagination. Hoarding cards doesn’t amount to being successful unless people are able to recall the face behind it. So, when you meet faces next time don’t focus on getting their cards, instead focus on their recall value vis-à-vis your substantive conversation with them. Give them a reason to reach out to you.
Networking Myth 5: I don’t need to follow up.
You attended a meetup and met a dozen people from industries that compliment yours. You think the job’s done? No. Follow-up in a day or so for them to recall you. Also, acknowledge a message someone sends you. Connect over LinkedIn or send thank you email/note if they introduced you to someone, refer them to a source you deem suits their network. The idea is to touch base and establish a connect.
Remember that networking may not be the only means to build a career, but is important. Myths about networking have lingered long in your mind. Time’s ripe to fix your fixed mindset and redefine networking for your interest. Most importantly spread your new understanding and debunk networking myths for others in your circle too.