The word “networking” tends to have a negative or uncomfortable feeling associated with it. After teaching networking to people of all ages and backgrounds, I have found that most people are reluctant when it comes to networking. I would like offer a new perspective. Networking is simply getting to know people. You do it all the time, you just might not call it networking. If you are connecting to people on social media, you are networking. If you are at a workout class, you are networking. If you are talking to the people in the seats next to you at a football game, you are networking.
Cambridge dictionary defines networking as, “the process of meeting and talking to a lot of people, especially in order to get information that can help you.” I define networking as, “Genuinely getting to know someone and building a meaningful connection where you can help each other.”
Do you see the difference? Cambridges dictionary’s definition is what we all dislike doing and having be done to us. You will not get good results if you approach people in this manner. People can sense when you are talking to them only because you want something, making the exchange distasteful and feeling empty. No one likes being used. It is okay to have an objective for why you are approaching people, in fact the best way to engage is to know why you are engaging and the results you want to achieve. However, approach them first and foremost to get to know them and develop a relationship. For example, being on a date your objective might be looking for a long term relationship. On the first date, you know your intentions, but you do not immediately jump into a relationship. You first get to know that person and then over time you build towards the results you want to achieve.
80% of jobs are not advertised, instead they are filled through internal networks. The best jobs typically are never listed publicly and get filled through internal referrals. Employees know that quality people know other quality people and if an employee is referring someone in there is a greater sense of trust that person will be a good fit because if they are not it would reflect poorly on the employee themselves.
Shifting your mindset to being inquisitive and authentic with your interactions will make you more effective and less ambivalent with networking. Networking provides an essential opportunity to build your connections, which is a significant factor for achieving career and life goals.
For more tips on topics such as mentorship and sponsorship consider purchasing Full Potential, which is a guidebook I wrote to help people get clear on career and life choices – you can find it at ignitingfp.com