Does the word “networking” make you want to run in the other direction? You are not alone. Many people are intimidated by the thought of networking. But, what if everything you believe about networking is incorrect and embracing networking could actually help you find your next growth opportunity?
Let’s bust some commonly held myths about networking.
Myth #1: A Bigger Network is Better
A strong network doesn’t have to mean more Outlook contacts and LinkedIn connections. In fact, research shows that a larger network does not necessarily mean stronger performance in your job. So, strive for quality over quantity – for connections with people you trust and find energizing. Invest your time in relationships where you and your connection can both advance your expertise by exploring your shared interests.
For example, if you’re trying to become better at mentoring and coaching others, think about people you know who regularly invest in those around them. Ask how they handle particular challenges you are facing.
Myth #2: Extraverts Do It Better
You don’t have to enjoy small talk or be a seasoned salesperson to network effectively. Successful networking starts with finding an approach that works best for you.
First, make a list of the professional colleagues you find energizing and how you met them. Did you experience a shared challenge at work? Did you meet at an event focused on a mutual interest? Once you can answer these questions, think of ways to put yourself in similar situations in the future.
The most important thing is to avoid forcing yourself into a role that doesn’t fit you.
Myth #3: Only Strong Ties are a Source of Support
Relying on only your closest colleagues can limit your career. Research shows that the networks of high performers are open and diverse. So, be confident and don’t limit yourself by only reaching out to your strong ties. Instead, reach out to people who work in different cities or industries. Get familiar with LinkedIn tools that help you see friends of friends – and don’t be afraid to ask your coworker to introduce you to a friend who does something that interests you.
Want to learn more about networking? Take this free 60-minute course on professional networking essentials.
Great post on networking! We also have a free online training with 20 tips to become a networking ninja coming up on June 10: http://direct.govloop.com/NetworkingNinja