Networking – You know it’s important to the longevity of your organization and to your own career. A good network keeps you informed, teaches you new things, and makes you more innovative. But, for every person who sees the value of maintaining a far-reaching and diverse set of professional connections, many more struggle to overcome innate resistance to, if not distaste for, networking. Networking has been misunderstood on many levels and has led many to give up on building relationship capital (i.e., professional connections) before they even start. Here 3 myths about networking that can keep people from reaping its full benefits.
Myth 1: I have nothing to contribute
Your favorite influencer is coming to your city and needs help promoting the event? Spread the word at the places you hang out and get your friends to tag along. If you successfully bring more people to the event, that is one way you will have added value to their lives. Never underestimate how much you can contribute to a relationship. So, the next time you’re tempted to not even give a conversation with someone you admire a shot, do it. Whether you tell them something they didn’t know or help them solve a problem, you have the potential to add value to someone’s life in many different ways.
Myth 2: Networking is for extroverts
Everyone needs and can build a network, and in fact introverts can be just as good at this as extroverts, if not better. More so than any other personality trait, resilience matters when networking; in other words, the ability to bounce back from rejection or failure. Ultimately, the worst that could happen is that some people will not get back to you or be able to help you out, or that you’ll not connect with certain individuals, and that’s fine. It’s surely better than not trying at all.
Myth 3: Networking requires small talk and fake smiles
Chances are, if your interaction with someone involves forced smiles and small talk, you will not connect on a deep level. True networking is about being yourself when talking to someone and building on potential shared interests. If you see networking as just another item on your to-do list, an ordeal where you have to put on a show, you can probably save yourself some time and just go where you feel comfortable. Ultimately, the professional connections you will go on to develop will be based on the level of authenticity you choose to share.
Relationships form the bedrock of any successful business or career building strategy. But it’s tough to build relationships without networking, and it’s tough to start networking if you’ve bought into its less-than-stellar reputation. Mindsets can change and do, but only with direct experience. The only way you will come to understand that networking is one of the most important resources for your job and career is try it and discover the value for yourself.
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