When you’re trying to get a new job or you want to make professional progress, people are telling you the same thing: network, network, network! But what is proper networking, exactly? How do you do it in a way that sets you up to success?
Oh, you’ll come across many myths when you start looking for answers to those questions. Let’s bust those myths, shall we? When we expose them, you’ll be a huge step closer to proper networking.
- Myth: You Must Aim for a Huge Network, So Target More People
“The bigger, the better” is a myth when it comes to networking. It’s important to curate relationships with more people, but it’s more important to get long-term effects from those connections. When you focus on making too many connections at once, you’ll just be superficial.
Keep in mind that networking with a single person requires time and effort. When you add multiple people with varied backgrounds and expertise on your list, networking gets serious. If you want to stay committed to these connections, you should avoid the strive for popularity. You’re not a college student who’s trying to get popular.
It’s not about making more connections through networking. It’s about making the right connections, so don’t waste your energy on useless ones.
- Myth: If You’re an Introvert, You’re a Bad Networker
When you start looking for networking tips, you realize you’ll have to step up your game and start approaching people. When you attend events, you’ll have to introduce yourself. You’ll need to send LinkedIn connection requests and you’ll have to keep those connections alive. You’ll have to start cold emailing, too. This brings us to a conclusion: you have to communicate well if you want to be a good networker. That’s true.
However, that conclusion brings us to an assumption: only an extrovert can communicate that well. Now that, my friends, is a myth. Introverts can have great communication skills, since they are focused on essence instead of form. They don’t do small talk well, but they definitely do meaningful talks well.
Justin Osborne, part-time writer for UK Best Essays, shared his own experience in networking: “As a moderately introverted person, it is unbearable for me to be the center of attention. Thus, when I need to do networking, I try to encourage the other person to show off and then I listen attentively. It usually works! By focusing more on other people, rather than concentrating on yourself, you will end up having many people liking you. Moreover, they tend to be more open to collaborating in the future. This is my most interesting observation.”
If you’re an introvert and you think you can’t network, you’re wrong. You can definitely boost your communication skills and use your strengths to build a successful professional network. You’ll just focus on one-on-one conversations and personal referrals, and you’ll do what you do best: meaningful talks.
- Myth: Reaching Out Makes You Annoying
“I can’t send a cold email to make a connection… that would make me look so lame.”
“Should I go introduce myself to that leader I admire? Oh, he’ll probably think I’m silly. He’ll probably ignore me.”
That’s not the right mindset to have. The myth of networking being annoying prevents you from making successful connections. Let’s be honest: you need those connections for career progress, and you can’t wait for them to happen spontaneously.
Imagine if someone sent you an email or approach you at an event, expressing their appreciation for your work and asking if you connect on LinkedIn. Would that make annoy you? Probably not. When you take initiative in networking, you’re actually telling the other person you admire them. Most people are open to sharing their success stories and tips for professional growth.
If you keep this connection alive, you might even benefit from it on the long run. In other words: this person may consider you for the next open position they have. They also need the connections, so they certainly don’t mind making them.
- Myth: Only Networking Can Get You a Job
This is the worst myth of all. Many people think that if they network well, they will definitely get a job. Yes; networking improves your chances to get job offers. It’s a practice that exposes you to more opportunities, so you should definitely rely on it.
If, however, you expect to get a job only through networking, you should get down to Earth. It’s not the only job search method. The good-old job applications are still the best way to get an interview. When you combine them with proper networking, you get a system that will probably work.
However, networking is not really successful as an isolated job hunting method. The connections won’t feel responsible to hire you just because you took initiative. When you make that connection, you have to show them what you’ve got.
So yes, do the networking. However, do some blogging, too! It’s important to improve your online authority, so those connections will see you as an influencer. It’s also important to keep applying to jobs, since that’s how you directly target relevant positions. Finally, consistent improvement of your knowledge and skills is another thing you mustn’t forget.
All these methods in combination work. Networking is only part of the process.
Are You Ready to Start Networking the Right Way?
We didn’t just expose the biggest myths about networking here. We also gave you some actionable tips on how to avoid those pitfalls and make networking successful. Are you ready to start that journey? Because you definitely should!