I just felt it; you rolled your eyes a little at my blog title. Please don’t! Today, I’m writing in defense of consensus networking for the purpose of bettering your career. Eeww…Does that sound shallow to you?
It shouldn’t and here’s why.
Whether you realize it or not, you’re already networking, you’re literally always networking, but if you aren’t consciously creating and expanding your professional networks, you may be unconsciously committing self-sabotage or at the very least, wasting your time and opportunities with potentially valuable contacts. We are what we eat, as they say, and like attracts like. In other words, your network says a lot about you.
Do you like what it says or does your story need a re-write?
Maybe it’s time to attract new contacts or business opportunities, but how is that best done without feeling smarmy, cheesy, and icky? My advice? Stop listening to all those networking rules. Tips can be helpful, but attitude is key. “Ultimately, it is women’s misconceptions about networking that hold them back. If you believe you will never be any good at it or that you are wasting time, if there is a voice in your head telling you it is self-serving and political, you won’t commit to breaking your usual routine,” writes Herminia Ibarra in a recent Wall Street Journal article.
Decide for yourself the best way to approach a situation or a new contact. There are many ways you can do this including reaching out to peers and friends for introductions or by attending events where valuable contacts frequent. If you’re more adventurous, you can always create your own professional networking situations by volunteering to charter a steering committee or social event at work. Ibarra writes about the propensity for women to avoid out-of-office professional functions that seem overtly male dominated. Let’s take the classic: golf. If you like it, go golf! Personally, I hate it, yet, early in my career I thought it was ‘what grown-up professionals do’. Eventually I realized that I didn’t enjoy it, I wasn’t particularly good at it, and I totally resented the constant unsolicited advice offered by my peers during that loathsome game of scramble. I sold my Calloway’s on eBay more than a decade ago.
Tomorrow evening I’m hosting a wine tasting; much more my speed and much more effective, at least for me. “The only way to debunk such limiting assumptions is for women to try it and learn from their own experience that networking is one of the most valuable ways to invest their time,” Ibarra shares.
Only our own experience will teach us what works and what doesn’t. There really is one no-fail tip to effective networking – decide what you need, what your goal is, and simply begin.
ACT like a pro out there!
Picture Taken By: Eric Chastain, Rabo AgriFinance
WSJ Article: https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-women-can-build-their-professional-networks-1526868480