All professional resume writers and career coaches preach networking. The correct form of networking is a personalized networking that builds relationships or nurtures old relationships. What networking is not is speed dating as I said in this post.
You aren’t trying to connect with a massive amount of people. Rather, you want to create the opportunity to be a resource for other people with a hopeful goal of them being a resource for you. Ideally networking is done best long before you need it, as Harvey MacKay said in Dig your Well before you are Thirsty. Unfortunately, for most job seekers and even entrepreneurs, networking is done mainly when you are in trouble.
Are most people lazy networkers?
Actually, I don’t think most people don’t network because they are lazy. Some don’t network because they never understood the concept and never spent any time reading or learning about networking. I would guess that many people who don’t network are afraid to network. They visualize large gatherings and passing out business cards. They think that because they don’t see themselves in the business world, networking must only be for those people who are in management or sales.
Engaging new advocates
The graphic for this post says what I mean by networking. You are looking for people to be your advocate. I would suggest this meaning from Merriam Webster for advocate: “: one that supports or promotes the interests of another.”
Are you afraid to network?
If you are, you are not alone. I confess, I am both shy and an introvert, though you wouldn’t know that from my presence online or from working with me in a client relationship. However, for all of my life, I have struggled with group events even when I know the participants and even when I am friends with many of the people in a room. I get scared and have even been known to back out or just stay busy in the background rather than networking. I gave it another try this year for awhile. I made a big push to get out there.
I found that despite trying the group networking, I like being one-on-one more. I didn’t really see any results from more networking so now I will go back to picking and choosing my networking. I truly look forward to my Christian Business Leaders group that meets monthly for breakfast and have built many great relationships there. I also enjoy the quarterly group that my new friend, Kat Savyannah from WritinRhythm pulled together by using LinkedIn, the words marketing, and Wausau, WI in a search. We’ve met twice and it was fun both times.
Transition from group networking to one-on-one
If you struggle with groups, do some searching to see if there are any that make you feel comfortable. If not, don’t despair, you can still network effectively by using a one-on-one strategy. Invite someone you don’t know well to lunch or coffee. You can network and get to know each other. I actually got to know Kat when she asked me to connect on LinkedIn and we decided to have coffee. She offered me a ride and after giving her my address, we discovered she lived right down the street.
See there may be networking opportunities for you just down the street. You never know. Think about the word advocate and the word nurture today. And then take a step forward and connect with someone from your past, from social media, or someone you want to know better.
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