by Josh Millar
For most of us, there are parts of our work that we love and parts that we’d rather not have to do. When it comes to those less-desirable aspects of your work, it’s important to assess them. That thing you don’t like doing, is it important and valuable to your business, or is it not really serving a purpose? Sometimes we’re able to rearrange our workflow to decrease the number of unpleasant tasks. If networking has made your list of things you don’t like doing, unfortunately, it isn’t one I’d recommend trying to remove from your list. For a wide variety of professionals, networking is a highly beneficial activity. If it’s something you dread or regularly avoid, it’s worth looking into why. The insights you gain might help you overcome the dislike and get significantly more from the efforts you put in. Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons professionals give for why they dislike networking:
You’re too busy.
One of the top reasons professionals push networking off their to-do lists is because they don’t feel they have the time for it. This is certainly an understandable reason. When we’re already feeling stressed by the demands of our work, it’s easy to see why an additional item on the list isn’t appealing. There are a few mindset shifts here that can help.
The first is shifting from viewing networking as optional to viewing it as mandatory. You’re not ‘too busy’ to get to work in the morning or ‘too busy’ to meet with your clients, so being ‘too busy’ for networking suggests you’re not recognizing its importance. Tune into the value and benefits of networking and identify how they fit in with your larger goals. When you raise its priority level from something you ‘have to do’ to something you ‘must do’, networking can become something you’re more motivated to get it done.
The second shift is from seeing networking as a major time-commitment that you engage in sporadically to seeing it as something you do just about every day. Sure, most of us would feel too busy to spend several hours a day at a networking event every day. And the good news is we don’t need to do that. When you commit to just a bit of networking effort each day, whether that’s a quick catch up with an old connection or following up with someone you just met, you can make significant progress without feeling like you need to uproot your schedule. You can make a point of getting to an event from time to time without the pressure of feeling like it’s a weekly must.
You’re not prepared.
Maybe you’re not comfortable in networking situations. This is often remedied with a bit of preparation. Whether you do this in a notebook or on your computer, take some time to brainstorm the most important points for you to get across when meeting someone new. Who are you? What do you do? What are your values? What sets you apart? When you answer these questions for yourself ahead of time, it becomes easier to discuss them more naturally in a networking situation.
You don’t have a mission.
Simply collecting business cards isn’t very valuable to your business. To get engaged in your networking efforts, you need to make them purposeful. Give yourself a mission. If you’re going to an event, perhaps you aim to leave with some new knowledge. If you’re meeting potential clients, perhaps you aim to build a few relationships. Assigning goals to your networking efforts can help you stay on track and stay connected to the purpose in your activities.
You haven’t seen the benefits.
If you’ve been avoiding networking, maybe you haven’t really seen its benefits in a while. You don’t see the value in investing your time. Networking is often about the long game. It’s about strengthening connections and building a community. The more you invest in creating these things, the more opportunities will come your way. Don’t expect to see amazing results from one week of effort. When you realize its consistent effort over time that will bring you the results, it’s a bit easier to work patiently every day.
Networking is too valuable to overlook. But it’s understandable why many professionals don’t like it. Luckily, there are often ways to change your mindset and reframe. How do you feel about networking? I’d love to hear your thoughts.