09.04.2020 - Tech Leader Power Lunch topic is "Ask Melisa Anything Q&A Call"

How to Make Your Networking Count (especially if you dread it)

Networking can suck

Most people don’t like networking.  Do you?

They justify why they can’t or shouldn’t network.

But, most of the time, the dread and avoidance we feel toward networking all disipates after we get on the phone to connect with someone or after we start that first conversation at a networking event.

In other words, our thoughts about networking are usually more brutal than the actual networking itself.

Why don't you like networking?

Two questions I ask my clients when we're discussing why they won't network are:

  1. "what is networking to you?" and
  2. "why don't you like it?"

Some answers I get back are -

  • it's fake,
  • it's superficial,
  • everyone is there because they want something,
  • it feels slimy.

You get the picture.

Do you have these thoughts too?

Why bother?

When you have these thoughts about networking, of course you don't like it! None of us do.

But, it's been proven time and time again that networking can help you:

  • Find job opportunities that you would otherwise never uncover
  • Get promoted faster
  • Meet amazing people for no other reason than to know them
  • Find ways to help other people

What if you could find a way to look forward to networking?

There is a simple tool that you can use to instantly shift your resistance to networking.

It is simple but not always easy, especially if you've been harboring a long-standing hatred toward networking. Well, that might be a little strong but you get the point.

The simple tool you can use to open your mind toward networking is to shift your mind from "this is fake" to "I can't wait to see who I meet. I have no agenda other than meeting great people."

That's it.

Give it a try over and over until your new thought about networking sticks and you learn to be open-minded and give it a try.

Where's the best place to network?

Now that your mind is open to trying it, let's talk about the best place to network.

The answer is also simple.

Find networking opportunities wherever you feel most comfortable diving in. There's such a variety available now that you can pick and choose based on your preferences.

Keep in mind that networking doesn't have to be what you're imagining in your head - a room full of "fake" people who are only looking to sell you something.

Instead, think about all the different forms of networking

  • talking to your connections on the phone or in person,
  • attending networking events,
  • meeting people online, etc.
  • You’re only limited by your thinking when it comes to where and how to network.

And finally, how to approach networking when you're there

Try this method of recognizing your limiting thoughts related to networking and work to replace those thoughts with those that are more productive for you:

If You’re Thinking This…..

Shift Your Thoughts to This

Networking doesn’t work

Networking is a proven method of job-hunting/connecting/being seen

This is a waste of time

Networking is very commonly the most effective way to find a new job. You can think “I’m putting feelers out everywhere, to let as many people as possible know that I’m available.”

I won’t fit in with the people at the event

I’m sure I’ll meet at least one person who I can connect with

I’m bad at networking

I’m dedicated to getting better at networking. It’s just about meeting and connecting with people.

I’m an introvert

I am dedicated to meeting people and will reward myself afterward with alone time. I’m someone who knows how to thrive as an introvert.

I don’t know the right people to network with

I’m excited to uncover what I don’t know about my existing connections. I’m excited to expand my network.

The people I know don’t hire people

The people I know may have influence over hiring that I’m unaware of. The people I know may know someone who does hire people.

I don’t know anyone

I am discounting the number of people I know – peers, colleagues, college alumni, recruiters, etc.  I can always meet more people too.

I don’t want to ask for help (or I’m not someone who asks for help)

I can talk to people and really listen for areas where they could use help. I can approach this as a mutually-beneficial connection.

I haven’t talked to my the people in my network lately, I don’t want to contact them now when I need something.

I’m excited to reconnect with  my connections and hear what they’re focused on, both personally and professionally.

Networking is too time-consuming

Spending time networking will pay off.

ARE YOU A FELLOW TECH PROFESSIONAL:

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