Relationship Building: Choosing a new perspective
I originally titled this post “Networking 101” but the word networking has so much funk around it that I wanted to change the title to be in alignment with something that I think has been critical in my personal and professional development - building relationships with others.
It’s rare to meet someone new and instantly have a relationship. I don’t think it is impossible but relationships fit in that world of… “the grass grows where you water it”.
This week’s post focuses on choosing new perspectives around building relationships in the working world. I believe you need to be in a frame of mind that suits you rather than freaks you out when it comes to networking and building new relationships.
Stuck Perspective 1: Networking has a bad reputation.
First of all, I want to acknowledge part of why networking has a “funk”. It’s because a lot of people associate networking as something impersonal and about as intimate as a wet blanket. I am not one of those people that is all eager-beaver about meeting and talking to people I know nothing about. I don’t frequent random networking events or “meet ups”. The transactional nature of traditional networking actually goes against one of my greatest values - quality over quantity.
Perspective Shift 1: Networking is warm and fuzzy.
The shift you need is this: only play in the realm of warm-lead networking. If the thought of reaching out to a complete stranger, whether electronically or face-to-face, freaks you out you should stick with warm networking. Warm networking, in my definition, is the process of getting connected with people you’re already sort-of connected to. Think of 5 people you know and are comfortable with today. If you asked those five people if they know someone in the field of marketing, how do you think they’d respond? My guess is one of them would “know a guy”. Your second question would be “would you mind connecting me with that person?”. My second guess is that they’d say “sure!”. Bam - awkward first introduction is handled by your friend and you can proceed to the fun stuff - getting to know a new person.
Stuck Perspective 2: I haven’t networked in 3 years and now I want a new job so I must start networking like crazy.
My dad used to tell me that “the best time to look for a job is when you don’t need one”. Insert eye roll and “whatever dad” comment here. I never understood what he was talking about until I was burnt out and desperate for a new job. The desperation in my voice was enough to send people running for the hills. After all, who wants to add a desperate person to their network? Crap, dad was right once again. Desperation is not cute, and no one wants to be in a desperate relationship.
Perspective Shift 2: Networking needs to happen before you need it and before you know what you want.
Reconsider networking to be something you should be doing all of the time for the sake of new learning and future-need-seed-planting. Say you’ve been interested in moving from a personal producer role to a managerial role. There’s no open jobs on the table right now but you’re curious to know how other people have made the leap. Start identifying people within your own company (warmest networking there is) or connections through your current network that you could start talking to now. You never know who you’ll meet along the way - perhaps even a hiring manager who will think of you the next time a managerial position opens up. You started from a place of curiosity, rather than desperation, and it ends up serving you well.
So, are you there yet? Do you see the real way to go about networking and building new relationships? It doesn’t have to be scary or intimidating. We’re all human and we all thrive on personal connections.
Next week we’ll focus on some prep work you can do to kick start your networking journey. There’s actually a lot that can be done before you attend that networking event that will help you head into it confidently and with a purpose.