What’s Your Networking Mindset?

I really love going to events and meeting people. In fact in the past couple of weeks I have been out and about bumping into old acquaintances and making new contacts and I have found myself really enjoying it. But it hasn’t always been like that. There was a time when I spent so much time meeting people that I grew tired of it.

networking, leadership, careers

Do you hate going to events where you won’t know anyone? Indeed, do you just avoid them because the thought of networking brings you out in a cold sweat? Or perhaps you are left feeling exhausted by the constant “merry-go-round” of networking events?

If so, I can help you.

In today’s economy and in our highly structured and service driven organisations, relationships are the name of the game.

Your network can play a key role in achieving your organisation’s goals, achieving your own career vision, growing your leadership capability, getting a new role or promotion, selling an idea, policy, product or service, staying current during a career break, reaching important people of influence, and much more. So it’s essential to find an approach to growing and maintaining a network that really works for you and the best mindset for you to do so.

Networking vs Relationship Building

There is an old joke about “networking and not working” which comes to mind and although I am sure I’m twisting the original to suit this blog, it does help to emphasise why changing your mindset to think about networking in a way that you find more meaningful and motivating is important. If you change the vocabulary to “relationship building”, “expanding your contacts”, “meeting new people”, “staying in contact” or (even) “enjoying canapés and good wine”, the impact that this will have on your enthusiasm for networking will be huge. The great thing is that you get to choose your networking mindset from now on.

When I lost my networking mojo, I worked with a coach who helped me find a new perspective. By changing my mindset from “nothing is ever new, I always see the same people” to one of “here is an opportunity to learn something or meet someone new that I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t made the effort to attend” this made the networking events fun, more like a game and made me feel more positive.

Fear of Networking

But what if you are struggling with confidence issues? As an executive coach, I know that networking can be difficult for many people, but I’ve also witnessed the sense of achievement and exhilaration after a client conquers this fear. Can you remember how you felt the last time you conquered a fear?

One of my earliest memories of doing so was at the swimming pool. It wasn’t the learning to swim bit – although I did drink plenty of chlorinated water in getting that right! – but jumping off the diving board. As my father bobbed around below (he was scared of heights), I climbed to the highest diving board with my brothers and walked to the edge and looked down. I was terrified. So I walked away and I walked back and for the next few minutes that was all I did.

networking, leadership, careers

I tried to convince my younger brothers to jump ahead of me but they weren’t having any of it. As the BIG sister it was up to me. And then one of them said “Ladies first” and I knew I had to jump. They had ‘thrown down the gauntlet’ and so I walked to the end of the board and stepped off……..SPLASH.

This was closely followed by two further splashes as my brothers entered the water. I remember the day so clearly and after that first jump, there were many more.

Networking tips

And so back to networking – it is about stepping off the diving board and getting wet. Sure, there are many tips you can use to make it easier such as: having and practicing a powerful introduction; always joining groups of three or more people so you will have someone to talk to; using voice mirroring and intelligent-sounding questions to get into the discussion.

But the most important thing is to take a proactive leadership approach to building and maintaining your network rather than simply reacting to it.

To be successful at networking, you need to be continuously making new connections while at the same time nurturing the relationships you have. Remember, if you take the attitude that it’s all about you, you will be less successful in retaining your network. But if you treat your network as a group of people you serve and support, your experience will be much more rewarding.

Over to you

I love helping connect people in my network whether it’s getting them to meet someone they have been trying to reach or putting them in touch with someone who can help with a current problem. It makes networking feel purposeful and powerful. It is a mindset of abundance which works for me. Let me know what mindset you use when you network and share any tips you have for overcoming nerves or fatigue.

If you are experiencing a negative networking mindset, email me and book a one off clarity session or discuss a coaching programme to support you.

Doors Still Open

Under a week to go until my Strategic Career Planning e-course kicks off on May 19th so don’t miss it. The six week on-line course will help you uncover what you need in both your personal and professional life to have a fulfilling career. Please do share the link with anyone you know who is currently experiencing frustration in their career.

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