Some folks are intimidated by networking or have an adverse opinion of it when, in fact, networking is not unlike attending a friend’s dinner party. At both a dinner party and a networking event, you meet new people, have meaningful conversations, form relationships and exchange information if you want to see them again.
Networking doesn’t have to be intimidating. Here are 6 truths to dispel common myths that give networking a bad name.
Myth #1 – Networking is about talking to as many new people as you can.
Truth – These days, networking is all about quality over quantity. In fact, though you may meet a lot of people, you’ll likely have quality conversations with only 1-3 new people at each event.
Myth #2 – You should network as often as possible.
Truth: One important and often ignored step in networking is follow up. Gauge your current workload and only network as much as the time you have to follow up with the people you meet at events. The more events you attend, the more follow up work you’ll have. The magic happens when you follow up with people after a networking event. Here are unique and easy ways to keep in touch after a networking event.
Myth #3 – Networking events are filled desperate salespeople and job-seekers.
Truth: Networking has changed drastically. People have a choice in who they do business with and who they hire and refer and, more often, enter transactions with those whom they have a trusted relationship. Building relationships is the name of the game. If you happen to get stuck talking to a pushy salesperson or job-seeker, here’s how to gracefully exit a conversation to make new connections.
Myth #4 – Networking is a whole bunch of unproductive, superficial conversations.
Truth: Networking is what you make of it. The professionals I observe getting the greatest results (introductions, partnerships, business) are those who’ve made a conscious effort to get to know people, form relationships, add value and help others. Those who are wildly successful take it a step further and form genuine friendships. Find a community you resonate with, make friends and notice faster results from your networking efforts.
Myth #5 All networking events are created equal.
Truth: Networking events and groups vary greatly. Do your homework and shop around for events / groups that suit your style based on attendees, structure, philosophy and purpose.
Myth #6 – Networking is important when you need new clients or a new job.
Truth: Building a network takes time and doesn’t happen overnight. Start building a solid network before you need it. Down the road, when you need help from a resource, referrals or to get your foot in the door somewhere, your network will be at the ready to assist any way they can because you’ve already built and maintained strong relationships.
You see… networking isn’t as bad as our mind makes it out to be. Again, think dinner party and go have fun with it like you would if you were dining with friends. It will change your whole approach and outcome.
What frequent adverse situations have you experienced that cause you to avoid networking? Or what common myth did you believe to be true that you now know isn’t? Comment below and let’s make networking more comfortable for as many people as possible.