Three Mindset Shifts to Help Take the Work Out of Networking

All the tactics you've learned will fail if your head's not in the game.

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It’s no secret that few people enjoy networking. Despite all the networking tips and resources out there, most of us struggle with meeting new people and maintaining relationships.

A Networking Attitude Adjustment

One thing I’ve learned about relationship-building is that working on some basic mindset shifts before you try out specific strategies makes a huge difference. A shift in mindset can help you approach new business development efforts from a more intentional perspective, thereby setting yourself up for success. Consider these attitude adjustments.

1. Think Giver, Not Taker

Don’t approach networking looking to receive something (a job, a client, more business). Instead, try thinking about things you can give: a connection, book recommendation, new resource. Always being “on the hunt” is exhausting — and rarely productive. It leads to burnout and eventual abandonment.

It’s much easier to think about how you can help someone. Making an introduction or sending a note with a hands-on tip are great ways to be a giver. Think about it: Would you rather help someone who is hounding you for a job or help someone who recommended a great book or pointed you to a person who helped your practice?

It’s human nature to be drawn to people who help you. When you are a giver, people want to help you in return.

2. Think Long-Term, Not Shortsighted

Relationships don’t just need to be built, they need to be maintained — and that takes work. So, instead of approaching networking as a one-time occurrence or something to “get through,” look at it as a long-term investment in your professional development. This mindset shift helps you recognize:

  • The amount of work required to maintain relationships.
  • That it is supposed to take time to nurture and develop strong relationships.

We’ve all been on the receiving end of someone reaching out for a favor when we haven’t heard from them for months. They haven’t checked in or updated us on what they are up to — and, out of the blue, show up in our inbox asking for something. Don’t be that person. There are no shortcuts to long-term relationships.

3. Think Quality, Not Quantity

Instead of trying to meet as many people as possible at every event you attend, focus on making connections with just a few targeted people. (Read “Relationships 3.0” by Mike O’Horo.) This mindset shift makes networking less overwhelming, helps you set attainable goals and takes the pressure off. By consistently looking to meet one to three people at each event (and, ideally, doing your homework on them), you are being intentional about building new relationships.

Position Yourself to Succeed

Focus on these three mindset shifts and you’ll see a difference in your business development results. You’ll go from being a taker looking for a quick return on your perceived investment with many people, to a giver invested in professional development and focused on relationship-building with quality connections.

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