Some people just don’t like networking. Whether they’re executives, professionals, or simply students, not everyone is comfortable with the process. Many of these people – even the ones with a natural affinity for it, like extroverts – claim that it makes them feel inauthentic and dirty. They see it as brown-nosing, exploitative, and generally unpleasant.
In today’s world, however, networking is nothing less than a necessity. Countless studies have shown how professional networks increase opportunities for individuals and businesses alike. Networks fuel more expansive knowledge, faster advancement, greater authority, and a better capacity for innovation.
Networking can also be more satisfying on a personal level. Individuals are able to build and nurture their relationships more easily. This, in turn, increases satisfaction in the workplace and can result in better productivity and higher quality output.
Overcoming the Aversion
With all these great benefits it’s only natural to want to explore the possibilities of networking. Even if you can’t stand the idea, there are some strategies that can help you overcome those feelings and branch out further than before. Take these steps into consideration and you can learn to love networking.
1. Change Your Mindset
There are two mindsets associated with networking. “Promotional” mindsets center around the growth, accomplishments, and advancement which comes along with networking. “Preventional” mindsets, on the other hand, see it as a necessary evil and only do it because they feel obligated.
Experiments have shown that prevention-focused people network less often and felt inauthentic during the process. As a result, many of them underperformed in crucial aspects of their job. Meanwhile, promotional mindsets lead to greater fulfillment and curiosity as well as an open mind.
You can’t simply force yourself to become extroverted if you’re introverted, but you can change what you focus on. Shifting your mindset to the potential positive outcomes can inspire you to look at it a different way.
2. Find Common Interests
Remember that everyone you’re networking with likely has very similar goals. Instead of feeling like you’re being dishonest or inauthentic think about the common ground you have.
Networking can help both of you advance your careers.
3. Consider What You Can Give
The main reason people feel disgusted when networking is because they feel like they’re taking advantage of the other person. Consider instead what you have to offer that can help them. Whether it’s tangible support like social connections and technical assistance or personal things like recognition and encouragement, everyone has something to give.