I Hate Networking Because ...
Frequently when I talk to my clients about the benefits of networking to uncover information that can help them in their job search, they cringe. Many initially associate networking with schmoozing, brown-nosing, and being fake.
But true networking is the exact opposite. It is about sharing information and offering help to others in a very authentic way. The best networkers are always giving and thinking of ways to help others -- not because they expect something in return, but because they believe it is the right thing to do. When these same people need help or advice, others in their network are willing to assist them, because they have come to know and trust them.
Here are the most common excuses for not networking. Do any of these sound like you?
Not wanting to ask for a favor
Many people think that when you network you are asking someone for a job. But this is not the goal of networking. When you network, you never ask for a job. You ask for information about an industry, company, or position. Most people like to share information and will be flattered that you asked for their advice. Asking for information actually strengthens the relationship rather than damaging it.
Fear of rejection
Many people fear that if they ask for information the other person might not be willing to talk to them. While it is true that not everyone will agree to meet with you, many people will extend help to you, and you have nothing to lose by asking.
Feeling uncomfortable talking about yourself
Many of us were raised to be humble and not to brag. Networking and interviewing requires that you talk about yourself and your accomplishments. When you talk about your skills, you are not bragging. It's only bragging if your discussion contains hyperbole, half truths, or lies. Discussing your accomplishments with others and using specific and quantifiable examples of how you achieved success is actually good for your career brand and your networking strategy.
Lack of awareness regarding the effectiveness of networking
Most people in a job search spend too much time canvassing the open job market -- the market everyone gets to see through job posting boards and recruiters. Far fewer explore the hidden market; the jobs that are never posted, but instead are filled through connections. The odds of finding a position through the smaller, hidden market are greater than those in the open market.
Not comfortable talking to people you don't know
Sixty percent of the population considers themselves shy. This perception leads to less networking. If the prospect of speaking to someone you don't know is overwhelming right now, start to build your network by talking with people you do know, such as friends, family, neighbors, or your doctor or dentist. If they can lead you to others who can help you gain necessary information for your search, your network will grow in a steady, comfortable way.
Wanting to do everything on your own
When you are selected for a position, it's because you have the skills to support the needs of the position. You showcase your individual accomplishments and differentiate yourself from the competition. But in order to tell your stories to the right person you need to cast a wide net. You leverage your network to find the right audience, not to get the job.
Being concerned about having others know your business
Feeling too proud to tell people you are in a job search? Examine the cause. Have you assumed that networking is asking for a job? Next, examine the consequences. If you fail to incorporate networking as a method of search, it may take you much longer to find a job.
-- Could you be earning more? Check your salary.
Lack of knowledge regarding the process
If you don't understand networking, now's the time to learn. To be an effective networker, you need to be willing to share information, build relationships based on trust and reciprocity, leverage existing relationships to create new ones, and create ways to stay in touch to continue giving. Those who don't understand or appreciate the process -- who use people for information and never build the relationship or return the favor -- give networking a bad name and lose credibility in the eyes of others.
Expecting things to move too quickly
Networking is an ongoing process. Like a child, your network needs time to grow and you need to nurture it along the way. You must pay attention to your network to keep relationships strong. Many contacts are not able to lead you to the person capable of making a hiring decision. You must constantly "stir the pot" to effectively network. Take care of your network and it will in turn take care of you.