Whether you love it or hate it, truth is that you can’t escape it.
Reality is that we’re all networking in some sorts. Whether it be purposively or unintentionally. That small-talking you are doing with your barista counts too you know! For me personally, I used to view networking as a chore that I would try my very best to escape. And yes. I’ve used every lame excuse that exist to skip a function. In the last couple of years though, I’ve changed my mind about it and I now genuinely believe that if you do networking right, there really are some great benefits to it for everyone involved…
In my first years at Copenhagen Business School I was constantly reminded by peers and mentors of the importance of networking. It was repeated to me to the point where I couldn’t even think of participating in a social gathering without cyber stalking every participant just to check whether anyone could help me in realizing my next business project. I think I overdid it slightly. Don’t do this at home kids!
And it led to me completely dreading functions as I felt no joy about participating. Moreover, I really never felt that I could see the actual value or results of my networking. I felt so duped! You know, I was led to believe in all of the magical benefits that networking would bring me but I never hit that sweet spot. So, I decided to skip it all completely, as it was way too time consuming. Instead my goal solely became to get a high grade average.
Later on, when I started applying for jobs I noticed that all of the social butterflies I knew had a much easier time getting hired than me, so I started second guessing my decision to focus solely on my grades. They were doing something right and I had to figure out what it was. I therefore decided to be a little more proactive and took some tips from a friend who convinced me to be better at reaching out for advice instead of relying solely on my online research for work. It sounded reasonable to me, so whenever I came across a challenge that I needed another opinion on I would reach out on networking groups online or people that I already knew, who had experience within the field.
I would just invite them for an informal chat over a cup of coffee which was kind of a defining moment for me as I figured out that when you reach out to people like this you rarely get a no (of course if they aren’t busy). I experienced that most of us enjoy sharing our knowledge and meeting up with like-minded as we see the benefits of another perspective as well. By doing this the last six months I have connected with a lot of super cool and highly competent people who I have definitely learned from and that I otherwise would not have met.
Overall I found out that there definitely is a huge potential in networking if you do it right. And by doing it right, I can only share what worked for me. So of course you need to find your own style of mingling.
What I learned though was that I had to be better at reaching out to individuals who I look up to or who are knowledgeable about something that I want to learn more about. What’s the worst that can happen? That they say no? Worth the try! And if they agree to meet, besides talking about work with them I try to get to know them. I do this out of keen interest and by doing so I’ve learned a ton. I’ve been really amazed to find out how many cool things that people have achieved in their lives simply by just being interested and listening. I learn by listening to their experiences and applying their knowledge to my work. By being a great listener and more open minded I also believe that I come across much more authentic and therefore people are more willing to connect.
Also, when I didn’t focus solely on talking about work I enjoyed the meetings and stopped viewing them as a chore. By having regular meetings I also expanded my personal skills as I’ve become much better at approaching anyone and can always find a topic to connect on. It just comes natural the more you do it. I’ve definitely (for now) reached that sweet spot and can finally see the value of networking. By focusing on the long term and just connecting to connect, instead of focusing on the immediate results, magic definelty happens…
What are your thoughts on my recent view on networking? I would love to hear your thoughts. So if you have something on your mind, do comment below.
Work and progress,