I HATE NETWORKING!
I hate networking; it’s just not me!
If I had a dollar for every time I have heard a client say this in a career transition coaching session…and I really don’t blame them because I certainly felt like that myself for a long time.
3 main reasons people give me for why they hate networking
- I don’t want to bother my friends
- I feel like a fake. I really just want a job so why must I go through all this?
- I’m not an extrovert; it’s totally against my personality
These are all quite legitimate reasons but they are almost all largely founded on a combination of a misunderstanding of what networking really is and, frankly, the fear of rejection.
So let’s come up with a different mindset about these issues
I don’t want to bother my friends
Get over it! If you are in a job search, and especially if the market is tight, you need help. You would help a friend in need wouldn’t you? Well, most people are also more than willing to lend a hand if you approach them in the right way.
I feel like a fake. I really just want a job so why must I go through all this?
First of all if you simply approach people asking if they know about opportunities (roles) you give them little choice about how to help you. Either they do know of something suitable (rare, but you could get lucky), or they don’t (so, not much more to discuss there), or they may do but are not necessarily comfortable being seen to directly recommend you (why put them under this kind of pressure?).
So you need a different reason for connecting – one that you can feel is totally legitimate.
Here are 3 of the best:
- Seek their perspective on an organisation you may be targeting – is it a great place to work?
- Get advice about aspects of your job search based on their wisdom or experience
- Get feedback about the roles you are targeting and whether your value proposition makes sense
Their answers to questions on issues like these will help you to refine your search and adjust your pitch without imposing on them or putting yourself under interview pressure. It also creates a very natural basis for asking for further introductions and referrals – all you are looking for is someone who can offer further insight and information or a different point of view.
I’m not an extrovert; it’s totally against my personality
Join the club! There are lots of us introverts around and our personality can in fact be our greatest strength when networking. Yes we find it awkward reaching out to people we don’t know well. But we are usually good at ask interesting questions and are often better listeners than our extroverted friends. All we are really doing is research to validate our target roles and companies and get feedback on our value proposition, ideally from a potential employer’s point of view. Do enough of this and you will find yourself discovering job opportunities that do not get advertised!
Look out for my next post on how to generate a steady flow of new leads and connections – and I am NOT talking about social media, although that is an area of great importance and should be part of your job search and career management strategy.