Do you like going it alone?
Successful on your own merits?
Disdain the networking process?
No sense of urgency to waste time networking?
If you’ve avoided networking in the past because of lone-wolf tendencies, I can relate. I was a former non-joiner myself for many of the reasons Dorie Clark states in her article Build a Network – Even If You Don’t Think You Need One. It wasn’t easy to get out of my own way. Without getting out there I would have missed out on meeting wonderful people. Like YOU as a great example!
Dorie recommends four strategies to reframe your thoughts to start enjoying networking.
Understand what networking is — and isn’t.
Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino has shown, many professionals feel networking is dirty and phony. “When we reframe the activity as a way of making interesting friends for the long-term — a goal most intelligent lone wolves would prize — it becomes far more appealing.” Dorie Clark
Identify people you truly respect.
Concerned about who is attending the networking event? Not interested in card swapping mixers. Creating a “wish list” of your ideal connections.
Recognize how a lack of networking may be holding you back.
Too often I hear my clients express feelings of being in their careers or struggling to build a business. Those in career transition are overwhelmed by the amount of time it takes to develop connections to move their goals forward. They have the skill and impressive credentials. As Dorie suggests, they lack peer recommendations. Elite professional group entry often requires multiple sponsorships.
Identify your vehicle for networking.
Consider organizations where you share common interests like alumni groups, professional associations and a few conferences per year. I spoke with a CEO recently who built her career on a personal best practice of, at a minimum, being a part of two professional associations. One with her ideal connections to build her career and the other for learning and development. She found some of her best connections with the organizations she joined purely for her own development.
There are many ways to develop a network that can be enjoyed without feeling phony. If you are an introvert and the thought of networking makes you want to jump back in bed start by attending an event instead of joining. Non-work related garden group, auto club, museum or hobby events are a good warm-up. I’ve made some wonderful connections at what seemed to be a non-work related event along with having fun.