13 Oct Let’s Get Networking!
From Family to coworkers to Facebook groups we are social creatures in nature and seek interaction and connections with one another. But when it comes to networking, many of us may feel less enthused. In fact, the stigma around networking often inhibits us form building and maintaining new connections. Today, lets break down networking and let’s get networking!
Where to Start?
Start with Your Current Network
When it comes to expanding your network, you don’t necessarily have to go far! Start with the current network you have! Connect with friends, keep in touch with old co-workers and managers.
From there you can continue to navigate and reach out to new people. Perhaps one of the most common ways to connect is LinkedIn. It allows you to connect with old and new colleagues. Additionally, it can make it easier to keep in touch with older colleagues and associates who you cannot keep in touch with on a regular basis.
If you are starting a new position, see if you work has any networking groups or teams. Consider doing an afterwork happy hour or dinner. Grab coffee with a co-worker or try a new lunch spot near your place of work!
Additionally, your hobbies can be a great form of networking, and you already will have something in common!
Furthermore, consider trying joining other mediated groups such as Facebook groups, it can help build a sense of community and a great way to start forming new connections.
So, You’ve Met, What’s Next?
You have taken the first step and begun interacting with someone, now what do you talk about? First and foremost, do not ask for a job, or favor when you first meet. Just like any interaction you want to form a connection and relationship before asking for anything. Second, mot people like to talk about themselves and the activities and work they enjoy! Here are some great conversation starters!
- How did you get into your profession?
- Tell me about…
- What do you enjoy most about X?
- What activities do you enjoy?
- How did you get into this activity?
- How was your weekend?
Remember the most important thing when starting a conversation is to actively listen, don’t think about what your next question will be or how the conversation is going. Be in the moment and listen!
The Unfortunate Reality of Networking
Not all Conversations Lead to Successful Networks
So, you tried to form a new connection and it didn’t work out…don’t be too hard on yourself! In any new interaction you can only control how you act and react. Moreover, not every person you speak to may want to network with you, but it isn’t any reflection on you! Creating and maintaining networks is complex and time consuming and some people may not have the time!
The Dunbar Number
Did you know there is a set number of connections that each person can feasibly maintain known as the Dunbar number? The Dunbar number states that individuals cannot withstand more than 150 connections at one period of time due to the time it takes to maintain these relationships and the physical limitation of what our brain can hold.
Keep this in mind for yourself and others when networking or trying to form a new networking connection. Individuals may not be able to provide the time or foster the relationship needed. Additionally, you may find yourself on the opposite end, and may not be able to provide what is needed to continue to build a networking relationship with an individual. If you do find yourself overwhelmed and unable, remember to be polite and forward!
The Bottom Line
Networking is complex and can be intimidating to start doing, but it is important to do! The main takeaway, is don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and moreover, it is okay if not every conversation leads to creating a network connection. Enjoy the conversation and take it as comes and think of networking as any other relationship and conversation you have with friends or family!
Looking to Learn More? Check out our sources below!