6 Tips to Make Networking Effortless
A study has shown that by the time a person turns 40, 80% of their job opportunities will come from their network. Therefore, “relationship building” should become your priority when hitting your thirties.
Like many millennials, I am a self-taught networker. Networking was not part of my business school’s curriculum. Truth be told, LinkedIn wasn’t even a thing back then.
And though I enjoy networking, I know that for some, it can be extremely daunting, especially for those experiencing imposter syndrome which, according to Dr Amy Cuddy, can be affect up to 80% of U.S adults.
Whether you experience imposter syndrome or cringe at the thought of networking, this actionable blog is for you.
It all starts in your brain.
Imposter syndrome is that little voice in your head telling you you don’t belong. For some, it can be so paralyzing they’d have nightmares ahead of key meetings or would avoid at all costs to attend work events. But why is that?
As I was preparing for this blog, I looked into what was happening to our brains when socializing and here is what I have found. Research has shown that human beings anticipate social rejection. It can be anything from not making the football team to never receiving ‘ACCEPT’ to our LinkedIn connect request. It is in human nature to create mental scenarios with scary outcomes that stop us from taking the next step.
We are beings with feelings, and when threatened, our survival instinct kicks in to avoid pain. A pain often dismissed as socially misunderstood. Scientific studies have shown the emotional pain experienced by social exclusion affects the same part of our brain as physical pain. This phenomenon called ‘social pain’ can lead to anxiety, depression and aggression.
3 reasons why networking can be a fun colleague affair
Over the past five years, I have learnt that networking can be a group affair. A great tip that can make the shyest of us great networkers. And in some cases, it can even help introverts come out of their shell.
So, what does networking as a group look like? A team that goes to industry events together shadows your boss with a teammate, attending a LinkedIn webinar with a work colleague…
What can be the benefits:
- Less work: if you wish to build your network across an industry, by dividing the work with someone else, you can identify more leads in less time.
- Meaningful conversations: always being the conversation starter can be draining. Having a buddy to lead in turns the conversation can help you think of great points whilst the other takes the lead.
- Recharge: networking events can be draining. If you can lean on a buddy’s energy, you might spend a more enjoyable evening by finding each other’s excitement.
Shifting the narrative
I started enjoying networking when I redefined its meaning. First, I did it when I needed my career demanded it. Secondly, I reframed it as an opportunity to meet interesting people I could learn from. Building relationships has become a weekly mindful activity focused on curating a meaningful network of connections.
As one of my coaches reminded me recently, to have great connections, one must be a conscious networker focused on quality over quantity. Networking has become a socializing tool which has significantly contributed to my personal and professional growth.
Six tips to make networking effortless
After listening to many podcasts, reading soooo many books and having hundreds of conversations about relationship building, I have distilled my learnings into six tips.
- Mix it up: find a format that works best for your communication style and personality. Whilst some prefer face-to-face meetings, others might prefer webinars, for instance.
- Make it a habit: if it becomes a habit, it becomes effortless. Allocate time to network in your diary alone or with friends.
- Make it personal: capture notes on your new connections. E.g.: kids’ names, favourite food… Use those next time you meet to make them feel seen and special.
- Be intentional: when it is time to network, be mindful. Prepare the meeting, focus on the task at hand and show true interest in the person.
- Be grateful: send a thank you email/ message after connecting.
- Be present in your contacts’ career. Eg: like their content on LinkedIn, reshare their post on Instagram, share a link to an interesting article you have read…
- Be mindful: consider what is in it for your new contact. Sometimes, it can be an instant win for your contact. Other times they might gain something from your relationship at a later stage. Don’t put too much pressure on the first connection.
I will end today’s blog with a quote from Keisha Mabry, who famously said,
“It’s about the who, not the do.”
So, think hard and long before your send or accept the next LinkedIn connection.
This blog contribution was made by Gaelle Couberes.
Gaëlle COUBERES is a French but Londoner at heart; she has been living in the UK for over twelve years.
She believes in the power of sisterhood, championing both diversity & inclusion and mental health.
Gaëlle works for Unilever as Sr Global Innovation Manager, taking pride in being a content creator, a mental health champion, and a mentor. She truly believes in the power of community and solidarity, the magic dust that makes a difference in life’s wild ride.
Besides crafting content for the Like-Minded Female Network as a Blogger, she leads Lean In London. Beyond that role, she is also a Mental Health First Aider and volunteer for the incredible #IamRemarkable initiative.
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