I know, hate is a strong word but over time I have realised people either love or hate networking. There are two distinct camps and unfortunately one is growing bigger and bigger.
Why? Simply because of how networking events play out. Be it how events themselves are organised/ hosted or the behaviour of those who attend. I’ll avoid talking about cheap wine and greasy food here, instead let’s look at the types of networkers out there. A good chance to think about where you fit and where you want to move to.
In general, people identify with one of 4 types of networking types; misguided, accidental, active or strategic.
The misguided group represents the largest portion and having worked with many over the years, some don’t even realise the impact of their actions as they associate them with the right way to network.
Let me start by taking some pressure off by saying that you do not need an elevator pitch to network (we don’t event call them elevators).
To clarify, you do need to know how to position and promote yourself, but a scripted, rehearsed response is difficult for the listener to decipher and remember.
When it comes to networking behaviours, I am often cringing at what people are expected to do. Whether it’s the ice breaker where you run around and meet everyone, the speed games or the card collecting competition.
Then there are the people that ask you “what do you do” before they have even introduced themselves and make you feel judged. The people that look over your shoulder. The people that don’t include you into the conversation. The people that have closed body language so you can’t break in, even if you wanted to.
Accidental networking behaviour is when you show up without a plan (& usually late). Sometimes you get lucky with meeting someone great or mostly you stay with those you already know and may even sit next to at work all day. This type tends to be more introverted in characteristics.
Active networking behaviour is a way of keeping your profile and brand out there by attending many events and being visible. This type tends to be more extroverted in characteristics. You do have some good results but is very time consuming so it’s not for everyone.
No wonder so many people dislike networking, after all meeting Misguided, Accidental and Active networkers can potentially negatively impact anyone’s experience. Whether it is realised at the time or not.
Let’s think about networking in a style that suits the way we prefer to work, connect and do business.
The last networking type is Strategic. Where actions and activities are aligned to career and business goals. Where your plan is executed, and you feel ins
pired and confident to represent yourself and your organisation.
All the research confirms the power of face to face connections. We all know by now that networking does give us access and opportunities that we wouldn't normally have.
The good news is that soft, social and emotional skills are all learned skills. Investing in your relational strategies will result in positive networking experiences and better outcomes for all.
If your diary is starting to fill with invites and opportunities, and you want to be strategic with your networking approach, please get in touch.
Happy netships for now,