I’m not the type of person that says hello to everyone, loves small talk and is overly friendly. I’m not the type of person that loves attending events and collecting business cards.
But the reality is that I’m a good networker.
Why? Because I can’t pretend to care when I don’t. When I form relationships with people it’s genuine. And yes, authenticity goes a long way.
Almost every success in my life – whether that be for personal or professional reasons has been because of my network. From meeting my soon-to-be husband, launching an International foodie community (Tel Aveat) to landing on life-changing job opportunities. The larger your true network, the more opportunities arise.
I know that we are in the midst of a global pandemic which changed our world as we knew it. Yes, it’s become practically impossible to meet people in person. And yes, this is exacerbated by the fact that people are facing new difficult challenges, and anxiety levels are at an all time high. But don’t wait for the world to go back to normal to network. Don’t use this as your excuse.
Your network is more important than ever.
Socializing and building new relationships is not easy. If you’re new to this “networking” thing then start with people you know – maintaining and strengthening existing relationships is equally (if not more) important than fostering new ones.
When I think about the people in my core professional network, each one of them is someone I genuinely care about. In my eyes, if you remove that genuinity then the connection is lost.
Sometimes it feels overwhelming. My professional network has become such a part of my everyday life. it can be intense, and a lot to keep up with. But these relationships are significantly stronger because of it. And this network consists of people that I absolutely want to help and that I can openly ask things from.
When I think about the attributes that make me a good networker, one that jumps to mind is being a good listener. I seriously listen to the story of whoever I’m connecting with and find commonalities – that might be interests or values – but creating a common ground triggers an immediate spark. And that spark is a powerful thing.
Another important aspect is approaching ‘networking’ conversations with an open mind. Being prepared is a must, but having a clear agenda is not always necessary. Research the person you are going to meet with in advance – it’s also a great way of learning what might be the common areas of interest for you to build upon.
In this virtual networking playground, be visible. Share things that you are up to, and engage with the people and communities that genuinely interest you. Remember that your LinkedIn connections are a reflection of you. Quality over quantity.
When talking about quality, a diverse network is key. The more diverse, the more effective. Connect to people with different perspectives, from different backgrounds, those that will challenge you to embrace alternative points of view.
Whilst writing this post, I’ve hated writing the word “networking.” To me networking is all about connecting with people, it’s about being a go-getter, but most importantly it’s about collaboration.
Don’t force anything that doesn’t come naturally. We don’t always have to be in the mood to network. Authenticity is a beautiful thing and will leave long-lasting positive impressions.
Just be yourself, believe in yourself, be real, and the rest will follow.