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I speak and talk about networking a lot. I love it as I’ve learned just how powerful a skill this is. Businesses, organisations and most people deem networking as a soft skill. So let me tell you whole heartedly, that networking is not a soft skill.
It’s a power skill.
People think that networking is an awkward social moment or icky sales conversation. They mistakeningly think that networking is about schmoozing and being sleezy. That it’s about going to the odd event, handing out business cards and expecting something to happen.
People think that networking is not knowing what to say, how to maintain a conversation and end a conversation.
People often glaze over when I talk about networking or get uncomfortable, thinking, ‘this isn’t something I’m comfortable with or feel I need to do’.
If you’ll allow me the time, I’d like to explore why networking is one of the most fundamental, valuable and necessary skills you’ll ever develop.
Networking is the Ultimate Power Skill
Let me shine a light on how I view networking and why I deem it to be a fundamental skill.
I liken networking as a skill, to the foundations you put down for a house. You cannot build a house without solid foundations. Similarly, you cannot build a successful business or stellar career without networking.
If you don’t believe me, have a look at anyone who is successful in business or in life, in general. Read books, listen to podcasts or talk to them. I guarantee you that networking is a huge part of how they were successful. It’s a common denominator. And do you know why? Well, because no-one and I mean no-one is successful by themselves and no-one achieves success without the support and help of others.
So if this is the case, why are people so reluctant to learn how to network?
What I see is an abject lack of confidence in people, no matter what their experience, age or gender. I see massive imposter syndrome, lack of awareness, a paralyzing fear in people and what I hear is a whole heap of limiting beliefs.
Now I say that with the utmost respect, because this was me. I’ve worked my way through all of this stuff, so I know what I’m talking about. I know where my mind and mindset was a few years back and can easily recognise this in others.
But I’ve since done a lot of work on myself to come to the other side of the coin, which is why I speak, train and facilitate in the areas of networking. It’s why I mentor and coach in the areas of networking.
Networking is a Skill
So if we are to reframe the conversation about networking, let’s look at it differently.
Networking is a skill. I think the word ‘skill’ is often overlooked.
Networking is a skill
It is something to be learned. You are not supposed to know how to network before you learn how to network. Let’s start with that reframe.
If you see someone who is really good at networking, they’ve learned how to do it. This person didn’t just wake up one morning knowing how to connect with others.
I’m sure you didn’t know how to use a laptop, manage an excel sheet, drive a car, lodge money in a bank, set up a zoom call, conduct a meeting, manage a team or learn how to present at meetings…before you did it and learned how to.
You most likely learned from others, got training and then honed your own knowledge and developed the skill. And as you developed the skill, you got quicker, better, faster and slicker at it…the skill became part of your comfort zone.
So if networking is a skill and you’ve never learned how to do it, why do you think you’d be any good at it?
Networking to Win
Would you consider learning how to network if I told you that you’d develop all of these leadership,, business, transferable and career skills?
Would you consider learning how to network if it accelerated your career and your business development?
Let me break it down in terms of wins:
- Your confidence will develop and soar.
- You’ll become so much more self-aware – and we all know that developing emotional intelligence is where it’s at in terms of business and career development.
- You’ll grow a community and tribe of people who’ll support you.
- You’ll develop a network of people with eclectic skills, to allow you to become a problem solver and trouble shooter within your business or your professional career.
- You’ll have the opportunity to develop presentation skills in a safe environment – great practice for client or management facing presentations!
- You’ll develop your own voice and begin to understand what you stand for.
- You’ll have a group of people who’ll be your sponsors and advocates.
- You’ll develop and understanding more about your personal brand.
A Personal Journey
Learning to network is highly personal and nuanced. How we connect with others is deeply personal. There isn’t a right way or a wrong way for you to do it…but you have to learn how you do want to do it.
We all have different backgrounds that influence how we connect with others, whether it’s the environment in which we grew up, our education, our friends and family, our work…all influence how will show up when networking.
Confidence is Where It’s At
You might have noticed that I haven’t mentioned anything in the list of wins about more business or a promotion. They are also wins and I could write and write and write about other technical and tactical wins that you get from networking.
But here’s the thing…none of the tactical and technical stuff comes before you develop your confidence and self-awareness.
Confidence is the name of the game. Understanding you and what you stand for allows you to make intelligent and conscious decisions about what aligns with your values, your priorities and this allows you to make good choices and set appropriate boundaries.
Coaching For Success
Would you like some support and guidance to help you on your networking journey? If you feel I can help, why not connect with me – email@example.com and let’s start a discussion. You may only need an hour or you might want three hours…who knows, but the point is, there is no pressure.
If you need a supportive sounding board to help you get unstuck, to managing limiting beliefs and to help nurture you through the process, then do get in touch.
I’m absolutely passionate about what networking can help you achieve, so if you’re ambitious for your own success in your career or your business and know you need a little bit of help, drop me a note – firstname.lastname@example.org
Keeping in Touch With NetworkingJean.ie
If you have other ideas and suggestions, I’d love to hear them. You can reach out to me at email@example.com.
And do connect in with me on Linkedin, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. A like, a comment or a share is always appreciated!
Let’s keep the #networking conversation going! You can join my mailing list too and I’d love to have you on board.
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