5 Steps to Master Networking
by Reem Papageorgiou | August 8, 2020
Do you feel a lump in your throat thinking about pitching yourself? We all do. Well, unless we are one of the blessed few who truly love to network. For some reason it breeds insecurity, doubt and imposter syndrome. Is there room to look at it as a way to shine, connect and grow?
Let’s take the pressure off. If you go into networking thinking “I will only be successful if I get the name, the lead, the interview…” then chances are you will be so in your head that you won’t connect with your audience and most likely will be left feeling like you failed. Yes, we network to expand our career trajectory, but we also network to simply grow our base, build our community and plant seeds for the future.
Take a step back
Think about a time someone has networked with you. Was it for work, a LinkedIn connection, or to explore a new preschool? What was it that made you want to connect back with that person, maintain the connection and perhaps help them out? Alternatively, what was it that made you walk away and say “Yeah, that’s not something I have time for or energy to help them pursue…”
The person you are networking with is just that, a person. Of course, they may be in a pivotal role or in a senior position, but they are also a person with a story, professionally and personally. Go in with the goal of connection versus the goal of coming out with a connection.
When you reach out to network keep the following ideas in mind:
- Why else are you connecting? (Besides for your original thought of a lead)
- What can you learn from them, their career trajectory, and their industry? Ask them what they wish they had done differently, what they are most proud of and what advice they have.
- People like to be acknowledged. Take the time to ask questions and get to know them a bit. You may find something else you have in common that will help solidify your connection. Share a bit about yourself that isn’t work related so that you aren’t projecting the feeling that you are just there for the hunt.
- Share why you wanted to connect. This is where you want highlight why you chose them; “I excel at helping companies improve their marketing strategies and I’m curious where you see the industry is going in this current environment since you have a great deal of experience.”
If you can address these four bullet points, consider your networking successful.
After you have built that connection, it is ok to ask them if they know of anyone to whom they can refer you. You can also offer connections for them. Even if you haven’t been in the industry for years, don’t forget your world is filled with friends, former colleagues and neighbors that may be a good link to helping them grow. Why not offer something back as well?
Shine, connect and grow. Reframe the hunt as building community and trust that authenticity is the prize.