Networking is critical as a professional. Whether you work in corporate, you run a small business or you find yourself in a job search, networking will be an ongoing part of your career.
Relationships help drive our success in all areas of our lives and many times, business relationships can develop out of nowhere and when you least expect it.
According to The U.S. Labor Bureau stats, we’ll spend an average of 4.2 years in a job; that equals more than 12 job changes if the average career spans more than 50 years.
With those numbers, you can see how vital it is to cultivate and nurture your network!
Events, conferences, workshops, you name it – they’re the perfect playground for networking. They can also be intimidating if you’re attending solo and I completely understand this.
They are however the perfect way to put yourself out there, without having to be attached to a buddy and unintentionally limit yourself from meeting people you wouldn’t normally socialize with or meet.
I’m sure most of you have heard, “give with the intention to give and not receive.“ When it comes to networking, some of the most organic conversations I’ve had have come out of me sharing something with someone with no expectation of getting anything in return. From those conversations, in
I had no expectation of them developing into business opportunities. For me, I was interested in the long-term connection whatever that might look like.
I’ve heard many times as well, that people need to be mindful of being prepared to offer an exchange of some sort or to be mindful of people’s time when you’re networking, and I don’t entirely agree with this.
Again – if you’re giving to give, then you’re not concerned about ‘time being wasted’ or what you can ‘get’ in return. It’s a mindset and being open-hearted, with offering a piece of wisdom, advice or insight that can help someone else.
If you think beyond the immediate interaction with someone, many times, there’s a mutual benefit from the exchange and you might not even realize it!
The experience of meeting someone new and learning something about another person’s experiences can be meaningful.
Similar to my experience, you could ultimately be making a new friend at the very least. It may not seem like anything at that moment, however, be open to the possibility.
Here are 4 tips to consider when you’re attending your next networking event:
- Be OPEN – don’t be attached to WHO you’re going to meet, whether or not you have something to ‘offer’ and be yourself
- Give without expectations of receiving – believe it or not, giving your time to someone is giving. Don’t underestimate your value and what you have to offer. Be open and genuine in giving without expectations
- Get comfortable with being uncomfortable – events where you don’t know a soul are the perfect opportunities to put yourself out there. Get in the mindset of going to an event on your own – you might actually enjoy yourself! 😉
- You won’t connect with everyone and vice versa – it’s possible you attend an event and walk away from it not having met anyone you connected with. There’s nothing wrong with you if this happens. At the least, you’ve learned if that’s the type of event you would participate in again and you know for next time.
- Seek out events online that are outside your industry but you have an interest in – this is a great way to broaden your perspective and learn something new. With that, comes the beauty of meeting others who may be different from you. Stretch yourself and step outside your comfort zone!
Networking doesn’t have to be an overwhelming, calculated experience when you have the right mindset towards it. Be open and give your time or insights without the expectation of getting anything in return.
I’d love to hear from you!
If you’re someone that’s struggled with networking, what’s one thing you can change to improve your experience? Let me know in the comments below.
p.s. want more on networking? Check out one of my favourite coaches Marie Forleo and her tips on networking.