November 1st – “Branching outside your comfort zone energizes you, increases your options and adds to your resume.”

dsc06962I HATE networking at networking events.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy talking to people and making new friends. I am very friendly and have no problems starting conversations with strangers.

What I don’t like is having conversations with a specific agenda in mind. That is not interesting to me. When I do go to these types of events, I don’t usually connect with anyone who will benefit my career, and end up hanging out with people who I think are fascinating. Sometimes these strangers become good friends, so I don’t consider my non-networking schmoozing to be a waste of time.

Despite my strong aversion to networking, I went to an event tonight. It was time to branch outside my comfort zone.

I decided I would network the old school way and do what I was supposed to do: meet people who could help me in my field. Surprisingly, I LIKED all the people I needed to talk to! This was a first!

I left feeling energized, like I just increased my career options. That’s another point for my horoscope!

***

As I was writing this post, I started thinking about networking some more. At tonight’s event, over half the people were sitting by themselves and not networking. That was very surprising to me. Perhaps they were too shy, didn’t find people they wanted to talk to, or didn’t know how to network? I don’t know.

Out of curiosity. I checked out the top 3 articles on networking on Google:

How to Network:  8 Tricks

How to Network The Right Way: Eight Tips

How to Network: 12 Tips for Shy People

These articles mention some of the same tips, i.e. following up with your new contacts after an event. Out of the three, the 2nd article by Forbes is the best:

True networking occurs when there’s an understanding that everyone in the room has equal value. In its purest form, it’s about people enjoying other people, communicating passions and connecting with others who share those passions. It’s about listening, figuring out what others need and connecting them with people you think can help, without any designs for personal gain. The most successful networkers build genuine relationships and give more than they receive. They go beyond thinking, “What’s in it for me?” to ask “How can I help?”

I think this is great advice, but I still think there are a few things missing from all of these articles. I think the most important thing is to know yourself and others:

  1. Develop self-awareness: know what your values are, how you behave, and what you want. Being aware of our thoughts and feelings also helps build confidence and squashes insecurity!
  2. Develop social awareness: be conscious of other people, what they’re feeling and thinking, and what they want. If you know where others are coming from, you’ll be able to make a connection with them.

Do YOU have any tips to share?

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