Networking (Net-werk-ing) noun: “A yuppie euphemism for kissing ass in order to get a job or obtain a raise or promotion.”
Regardless of your skills, intelligence, or education, if you are not good at networking you will always earn minimum wage and live in a trailer park.
Or so says Urban Dictionary, anyway.
Sorry, Urban-D, BUT I think you’re sorely mistaken; especially in 2015.
Regardless of how you look at it, networking has developed a bad rap over the years, and most people (especially job-seekers) HATE networking – with a passion.
For starters, many people who network have NO idea what they’re doing, and it can be painfully awkward in many cases, leaving you with a bad taste in your mouth and the want to run straight out of there. Strike one.
Then, you go to an event with the intent to meet people to try and get some leads that will get you what you want, but you actually only end up meeting this guy, Bob, who so rudely took up all of your time and nearly sucked the life out of you with his outlandish sob stories. But you couldn’t walk away because you felt guilty because Bob probably doesn’t have any other friends, and if you leave he will be sad and want to go home and cry himself to sleep. And you just couldn’t live with that. Strike two.
And lastly, you go to networking events to “network”, but you don’t really have any idea what that actually means nor do you have any idea what you really want to get out of it so you leave with essentially “nothing” and think to yourself, Ugh what a waste. Strike three.
After all the networking yuck-fests you’ve been to, maybe you’re jaded. Maybe you’ve given up on networking all together because it’s not working for you. Or maybe you’ve decided that you’re just awful at networking in person so you’ve decided to do it all on the interwebs. I’ve got news for you, Bub: they’ve got to meet you in person sometime!
SO – how can we save networking and get more out of it in 2015? Listen up!
Be purposeful about it, yo.
If you’re going to spend an hour or two or three at a networking event, take the time to think about how you can best use that time to make things happen. What is your goal in attending the event? Do you want to meet three people with whom you can meet with one on one later and create a partnership with? Or do you just want to go and have a good time for the good-time’s sake?
I don’t care what you want out of it, but at least define it for yourself BEFORE you get there, and be strategic and purposeful in making sure you’re going to meet that goal. If you don’t plan, you plan to fail, folks! The last thing you want to do is leave and wonder why the hell you went in the first place. FAIL.
Go into it with a “giver’s gain” mindset.
Maybe you’ve heard this term, maybe you haven’t, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to get the gist. Go into networking events with the thought of, what can I do to help people while I’m here? What can I offer that will help someone else reach their goals?Not only does giving feel crazy-good, but people like people who want to genuinely help and expect nothing in return.
If you leave that networking event helping even just ONE person get what they want (offering a tip, suggestion, or a connection to one of your colleagues who may be able to help), you can rest assured that the universe will bring it back to you tenfold.
Ask better questions.
This one’s my absolute FAV networking tip. Why? Because what IS networking but asking questions and talking about the answers, right? I mean, our conversations would be SO much more fun and useful if we just asked better questions and got down to the nitty gritty of who people are and what they really want. One of my all-time favorite questions to ask people is, “what’s one passion-project you’re working on right now, and why is that important to you?”
Like, seriously, what better way to get to know who people really are than by asking about a passion project!? (As you can tell, I get excited about this stuff).
We always spend our time asking “So, what do you do?”, (not that that’s a bad question, but I think we can do better than that, ya know?) and many times we don’t get past that question with people. I’ve found, in most cases, what we do as a job/career isn’t really what we love or are passionate about (kind of sad to say, but it’s true). If no one ever asks us, how will we ever get to share the real stuff about ourselves? The stuff that truly matters?
My challenge for you is to ask the better questions. Ask the REAL, important questions and aim to truly learn about the people you meet. Learn what they like. Learn what they need. Learn how you can help. You’ll see that it completely changes how you network and the outcomes you receive from it.
BONUS Tip: Follow up like your mother’s life depended on it. Seriously.
For the rest of 2015, when it comes to networking, your job is to be purposeful, to give-give-give, and to ask better questions. Oh, and follow up!
Shouldn’t be too hard, should it?
If you’re in need of some serious networking help, you can bet your buns that I’m your gal. I’ve been networking my face off since 2010 (after moving to a brand new city knowing zero people), and I’ve learned a thing or two along the way. Drop me a line, and let me know what your biggest struggles are with networking. OH! And, I share lots of career goodies with my VIP list, so feel free to pop on over towww.daynamariecoaching.com to sign up!
Cheers to you 2015 networking success!
Dayna Mathews, Career & Personal Branding Coach for women at Dayna Marie Coaching, has helped more than 500 people since 2009 on their path to creating a successful career. Not only does Dayna create powerfully branded resumes and coach on interview skills and job-search strategies, but she also helps women figure out what they really want. She gets down deep to help bring forth your true self so you can better personally brand yourself and stand out in the crowd. Dayna is a die-hard LinkedIn junkie, creating profiles that attract the right attention and providing hands-on training to help you get what you want. Dayna is a hockey-obsessed, northern Minnesota native with a love for writing and inspiring women to play the lead role in creating the lives they’ve always wanted.