Start talking about networking with the professionals around you and chances are, you’ll hear a chorus of groans. Does networking have to be so hard? In short, no! There are some simple ways you can ease the pain of networking, both as a regular to build your career, and as a serious push when you’re searching for your next position. Below, you’ll find a short list of common stumbling-blocks to meeting your networking goals, and ways to work around those blocks!
Introverts retreat! Networking is just the opposite of what introverts prefer to do. Anything involving a crowd, meeting new people, or bracing for interaction just isn’t your thing. What can you do? Make phone calls and emails your primary method of networking, save the in-person networking for industry events and other high-value networking opportunities. This takes some of the stress out of networking, knowing you can control the level of contact most of the time. This plan also gives you the ability to plan ahead and even make notes on what you want to communicate, which can give you even more confidence.
Crisis of confidence. Do you feel like you’re just not good at “selling” yourself? Maybe you feel uncomfortable touting your expertise and a little embarrassed mentioning your eMBA at every handshake. The best remedy for this discomfort is practice. In the mirror, with a friend or partner, or just aloud to your dog; rehearse your introduction, your elevator speech, even your handshake and . With repetition comes comfort. It starts to sound less like bragging and more like a description of what you bring to the table. Your elevator speech is less about bragging and more about offering a menu of your skills, experience, and education…you’re looking for a good fit in your next position, not gold stars on your networking!
Perfectionism pothole. Have you fallen into the perfectionism trap? Wanting so badly to do your very best at presenting yourself that you feel like you failed before you began? One of the most effective ways to combat perfectionism is to focus less on your own goals and more on what value you can bring to the interactions as you network. Whether it’s with phone calls, emails, or in person, you can keep an ear out for the right moments to suggest a great candidate for a position unsuited for you, connect one of your favourite Executive Recruiters with a highly-qualified candidate, or offer a solution to a common industry issue when it’s discussed in conversation. By offering information, connections, and solutions, you become a valuable asset in every networking interaction while you establish your expertise. Yes, make sure you also introduce yourself and express what your goals and aspirations are, but offer more value than just as a great job candidate. By shifting the focus from “what can you do for me” to “how can I be of service”, you become a valuable connection for everyone you contact. That’s memorable, and likely to generate more job leads than a focus on yourself!