I have to imagine networking and spiders have a lot in common. Everyone is scared of spiders but all they are trying to do for us is balance out the ecosystem and protect us from other unruly little insects (#mosquitos). Everyone is scared of networking but all it’s trying to do is expand our horizons and help us do-what-humans-do which is connect! We spend so much time expounding over the fact that we think networking is scary we forget to see how much it plays a role in our big picture.
Lucky for us, networking isn't (and doesn't have to be) an 8 legged insect. Keep on reading for 3 ways to look at networking so it can get it from scary spider to ecosystem gurus.
Stuck Perspective 1: I can't reach out to so and so, they'd never want to talk to me!
Perspective Shift 1: Have you ever considered the fact that reaching out to this person could be more beneficial to them than it will be to you? How overwhelmingly flattered would you be if someone reached out to you wanting to pick your brain? You'd melt! The old perspective makes networking a one way street but true networking goes both ways!
Stuck Perspective 2: I am way too awkward to network.
Perspective Shift 2: The best remedy for awkwardness is preparation. You might feel awkward, or think networking in general is awkward, but it's really not! An effective way to prepare for a networking meeting is to visualize, plan for and mitigate the anticipated awkward moments. Here's a few anticipated awkward moments to plan for: 1. Silence is bound to come up. How will you handle it? When in doubt, ask a question. Have a list of 10 questions you want to ask that person. 2. What if you start getting nervous at the meeting by filling your thoughts with ‘omg that was a dumb thing to say’ and ‘did I really just laugh like that’? How will you handle it? My recommendation is to get your attention over on them and see what happens.
Stuck Perspective 3: I feel good about networking, and I've been doing it for a while now, but nothing seems to be happening.
Perspective Shift 3: The only instant gratification you should be feeling from networking is the pride you feel from stepping out of your comfort zone. Networking is not some prize machine you out a few cents in and BAM! you get your prize. Like I talked about in this post, networking is just the first step in a greater relationship. Trust needs time to build and networking needs time to do its thing. If you're going in to your networking meetings expecting something on demand, please stop immediately and go back to my networking basics:
Now, I have a challenge for you. I challenge each of you to reach out to one person this week and set up a networking meeting. If you agree to the challenge, let me know by filling out the form below! Prizes, praise and other freebies await those who step up to the challenge!