Written by: Liza Weidle, Curtis Media Group Director of Career Development
Networking will feel less like work if you have a positive attitude and understand that this is one of the best ways to improve the quality of your work through relationships, both inside and outside of your profession.
Stanford University’s Carol Dweck studied the mindset and motivation behind networking to discover that most people fall into one of two camps. Networkers are either excited about the opportunity or approach networking with the dread of having a root canal.Both types can be challenged to make an impact.
For some, the idea of entering a room where you may not know anyone can lead to panic attacks. This type of person views networking as something they must do to prevent losing their job or business. Known as prevention-focused networkers, the interactions are avoided as much as possible and when they do occur, the relationships built are not as meaningful as they could be. With a little planning, even prevention-focused networkers will start to look forward to the opportunities.
If you look at the world as being full of possibilities and are excited to meet others, you probably have a promotion-focus to your networking. Someone with a promotion mindset is more effective at building authentic relationships because they can quickly uncover shared experiences and interests to make connections that are mutually beneficial. The challenge can be over-scheduling events and that could lead to burnout.
Tips to Take the Work Out of Networking
You can bring your best to any networking event if you plan ahead.
- Be strategic in choosing opportunities that are in alignment with your goals, both in the near future and down the road. Ask others in similar fields of work for their most productive networking events. Quality trumps quantity.
- First impressions make a difference in building a strong network. If you are running ragged and try to squeeze one more networking event into your schedule, you could do more harm than good.
- Have a set of open-ended questions that can spark conversation. Think outside of the box by asking what the other person likes to do for fun or ask about their favorite show.
- Take a small notepad with a pen to events. The point of networking is the give and take of the relationship. Be sure to always ask how you can help them and write down their answer. I carry a small binder with me and load it with business cards and handouts.
- Just do it! Once you get a few events on your calendar, it’s easier to look forward to the activity as being something that leads to more business opportunities and job satisfaction.
What’s your best networking strategy? Leave a comment below to let us know.