Monday, June 19, 2006

 

Networking is easy

I don’t think I’m very good at networking. But I’ve learned that nobody else really thinks they’re good at networking, either.

I know many people – colleagues, friends, former co-workers, etc. – whom I consider expert networkers. But when I ask them for the secret to their networking success, the first think they say is how bad they think they are at it. Everyone, even the best, thinks everyone else is better.

Networking isn’t always easy to begin with, but none of us think we’re very good at it. So when you think about it, that should make networking a lot easier.

The next time you attend a local networking event or a cocktail party at a conference, keep in mind that nearly everyone else there shares your insecurity about why they’re there in the first place. Use that as confidence to strike up a conversation with someone, join an existing conversation in progress, or walk up to someone you’ve always wanted to meet and introduce yourself.

But networking isn’t just about the initial conversation or introduction. It’s largely about the follow-up. And when you follow-up with those you’ve just met, you’re likely to be in the vast minority of networkers who have the courage, or take the time, to do the follow up at all.

As I get older, my increasing number of “at bats” in networking opportunities is naturally increasing my confidence as a networker. It makes me realize I shouldn’t have been so nervous or averse to networking earlier in my career. It particularly makes me take notice of younger colleagues who don’t yet have that confidence, but would be 100% welcomed once they get into the pool with the rest of us.

You see? Networking isn’t that hard. Really.

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