Networking, in its simplest form, is about creating and building relationships that can benefit your professional future. By building these relationships, you are also building a support team that can help to strengthen your career and provide you with opportunities that you may not have had before.
For most professionals, the thought of networking seems hard, obligatory, or like extra work. And it’s pretty much Psych 101 that when something seems unpleasant, there is a tendency to avoid it or feel naturally discouraged.
So how do you tackle networking when it’s not #1 on your favorite list?
Lorrie Thomas Ross guides intentional leaders on how to overcome networking negativity which inspired her to write the article, “I’m a CEO – I Use These Hacks So Networking Doesn’t Feel Like Work.” She says the key to networking success is to approach networking in a natural and comfortable way.
“When you approach it strategically, in a way that feels natural to you, networking takes on a momentum of its own. Before you know it, you’ve cultivated a rich, robust network that supports and strengthens your career efforts and opens doors to new opportunities.”
Lorrie explains that the first step to building a good network is doing self-work. This means looking at what you do for a living, who your target client is, your style of work, personality and more. This will help you determine what types of networking are right for you. For example, if you are an extrovert, you may thrive by doing your networking in person and with large groups of people. If you are an introvert, networking may be easier in smaller groups or online via groups that align professionally.
Once you have an understanding of what types of people you are looking to network with and how you will build these relationships, the next step is to do your homework. Look at groups you are interested in and see what people like about them, what types of professionals are in these groups, how the group members interact with each other, what is the level of commitment and will this group be beneficial to you professionally. Remember, you do not have to commit to a group because you go to one meeting, if the group does not seem like a good fit, move on and look for one that aligns better.
Building a powerful network doesn’t have to be difficult. Just remember: Whether in-person, virtual or social, your networking efforts should always be true to you.
Read Lorrie’s full article on networking that feels natural!