Networking is all about building relationships.
For those who are introverts, just the term “networking” can trigger intense fear and anxiety. But a few simple steps to change your thinking can help dispel this anxiety.
NETWORKING IS NOT A DIRTY WORD
Networking has increasingly become a vital part of life regardless of whether you are looking for a job or not; you should consistently be engaged in the practice.
Much of the anxiety surrounding networking stems from the idea that it means walking up to strangers and talking to them, similar to a face-to-face cold call. The first step is to reframe your thoughts around networking and look at it as simply what it is, relationship building. Everyone has built many different types of relationships in their lives thus far so it is important to understand that you can build more.
When you approach someone for networking come from a place of how can I help this person versus what can I gain from them. Most people are capable of picking up subtle nonverbal cues so it is important that you are approaching others in the appropriate mindset.
Furthermore, when you come from a place of helping versus selling you can feel better about what you are doing because you aren’t selling them anything, but building a foundation in which they will want to assist you of their own volition.
CULTIVATE THE RELATIONSHIP AND LISTEN CAREFULLY
From your own personal experience you may be aware that relationships are not built overnight but take time to develop; this is also true in networking. Engage someone in conversation, ask about them first and what they are looking for, before discussing your desires or services.
People respond very well if they believe they are being truly listened to; let them do most of the talking at first. Exchange contact information and follow up with them within a few days referencing the content of your conversation.
NETWORK TO EXPAND YOUR PERSONAL RESOURCE CIRCLE
Another good thing about networking is that it is not just advantageous for business purposes but for personal issues as well.
Every person has had unique experiences, some of which you may or may not share, but networking can expand your scope of understanding and resources for just about anything—for instance, a parenting issue, a dental referral, a job lead for a friend, and so on.
THINK LONG TERM
Once a relationship has been established through networking you never know when they might be of service to you or you will be of service to them in the future. So be sure not to brush someone off just because they can’t or you can’t help them today.
It is also important to remember that we are in continual motion, just because someone isn’t exactly where they aim to be today doesn’t mean that they won’t be in a position to help tomorrow.