On September 18th, Stephanie Hanna led a lunch and learn about networking. Stephanie’s company, The Other 85, is founded on the idea that 15% of your job success is based in your technical skills but the other 85% comes from the ability to connect with others, nurture relationships, build trust, and be a good coworker.
Most people dread that part of their job, however, and the thought of networking makes them cringe. Here in the coworking world, networking is a vital part of what we and our members do, and often one of the reasons why people choose a coworking space over traditional office space. That doesn’t make it any easier. To help, Stephanie laid out 5 mistakes that people make when networking and provided tips to help people make networking a part of their day in an easy, seamless way, taking the work out of networking.
Mistake 1: Having the Wrong Mindset
- Takers: Takers have large networks but tend to be shallow and want to know what you can do for them in a relationship.
- Matchers: Matchers are the type to keep score. Sure, they’ll give you something but they want something in return. Matchers like to trade favors.
- Givers: Givers have broad networks but deep connections. They are looking to add value to someone else, without expecting anything in return. Givers are the most successful at building strong relationships.
When networking, you should have the mindset of a Giver. Altering your type doesn’t need to be hard. Giving can be anything from making meaningful connections, sharing helpful content, or sending someone a quick note or congrats when you know they’ve accomplished something.
Mistake 2: Fear of Rejection
One of the biggest reasons people don’t like networking is the fear of rejection; it’s tough to put yourself out there. The reality of it is that there’s not much that can go wrong when you’re making small moves to connect with people.
If you’re making small efforts in your everyday routine (see the tip in mistake 4), there are low-risk ways to put yourself out there. The worst that could happen? Probably just a lack of response.
Mistake 3: Treating Networking as a Separate Task
Networking feels like a chore when you treat it like one. Instead, make it a priority and make it easy. Do a calendar audit to identify times in your day that a chance to make connections already exist. Do you stop for coffee each day? Say hi to the barista. That was easy.
On top of that, add a short time block in your calendar to reach out to people you don’t encounter every day. Activities like sending out physical cards/notes make a large impact and sending a quick email to thank someone for a conversation you had is painless. Identify when you have time in your day, whether that’s 15 minutes every other afternoon or 30 minutes on a Friday, and dedicate it to building relationships.
Mistake 4: Being Inauthentic
Everyone has heard the statistic about how long you have to make a first impression: 5-10 seconds. What happens when you spend those 10 seconds stumbling over your words and trying to formulate a clear introduction for yourself? Your first impression probably isn’t going to be a good one and it doesn’t do justice to who you are.
Your first impression sets the tone for the course of your relationship. So, how do you nail it every time? Use this template to build your introduction:
- What are 2 things you want people to pick up instantly when meeting you?
- What are 2 things you want people leaving an interaction with you to remember?
- What are 2 unique things about yourself?
Use these prompts to create a strong introduction that you can use when meeting new people. Then, take time to practice your introduction, internalize it, rehearse it, and get excited about it.
Mistake 5: Analysis Paralysis
This one is all about the “what ifs, ands, and buts” that you’ve thought about networking.
“What if I don’t have contact information to connect with people?”
“But I don’t have time to just email people all day!”
Stop over-analyzing and over-complicating things! Identify your barriers (i.e. time, lack of info, fear of rejection) and overcome them. Don’t have time? Calendarize your efforts and set a timer so you can stay on track. Don’t have contact info? Use LinkedIn or see if you have mutual connections to others.
By identifying your barriers, you can create a game plan to overcome them instead of making excuses. What are you waiting for?