top of page

Fall in love with the other side of networking

“I know that networking is a good thing for my career, but it makes me cringe and I just can’t bring myself to do it. Please help!” – Many people, Everywhere

Historically when we think of networking, we think of walking into a big venue after work, getting our name badge and drink, then *horror* mingling with strangers!

A small proportion of people love this and thrive in such a setting. The vast majority don't. Even as a fairly confident extrovert, at times, the thought of it made me want to hide. Or have a little snooze.

I have got GREAT NEWS for you…

Let's take a step back. You are right. Networking is a good thing for career success. It is one way to increase your exposure and to become better known for what you do. According to Colman's PIE model, 60% of career success comes down to your exposure. It is far more important than just working hard and performing well. It is also a wonderful way to learn from other people and see what is happening across your industry.

"Real networking is far more successful if entered into with a spirit of generosity".

But networking doesn't have to be just about meeting lots of new people in a group setting. I personally challenge the traditional definition of networking:

'The process of trying to meet new people who might be useful to you in your job, often through social activities' - Collins English Dictionary

I challenge this on two fronts:

1. Networking shouldn't just be about meeting new people. It should also be about keeping in touch with existing contacts and deepening those relationships.

2. You should not only be thinking of people who are useful to you. Real networking is far more successful if entered into with a spirit of generosity. Thinking about what you can give more than what you can get.

So, my personal definition of networking would be:

'The process of both meeting new people and developing existing relationships. Building genuine two-way relationships, supporting each other for mutual benefit over the long term.' - Ellie Rich-Poole.

So how should you go about it in a way that doesn't make you cringe? Here are seven ideas to get you started.

1. Reconnect with people you previously worked with and lost contact with. Remember that old boss you always really rated. Or the colleague from the office you always went for lunch with. There will be so many people you have met and maybe even knew quite well but are no longer in contact with on a regular basis. Pick three now. Send them a personalised connection request on LinkedIn (or a DM if you are already connected) and get back in touch.

2. Follow up with the new connections you met in the last year. Did you meet a new person on a webinar, connected with on LinkedIn and then nothing happened? Drop them a note to see how things are going or see if there is anything you could help them with. Just do something. Don't be the person who connected and then went radio silent. What's the point?

3. Know your strengths and tailor your approach accordingly. Do you love writing? Drop some keeping in touch notes out via email, LinkedIn DM or even handwritten on old-school cards. Do you much prefer one-to-one settings instead of group? Arrange some coffee meetings or lunches. Are you time short but want to drop people a line, so they know you are thinking of them? Use the voice note facility on WhatsApp as you are out walking.

4. Use your existing network to connect with new people. If you prefer not to meet people cold, be more considered about who you want to meet and how. Use LinkedIn as a research tool to see who in your network is connected to them and ask the most appropriate person for an introduction. But if you do so, know that you are asking a personal favour and essentially using their name, so manage the relationship with the new connection well.

5. Find an accountability partner. A friend from the same professional sphere who is also keen to network more. Challenge each other. Share successes. Don't let each other chicken out of attending events. You could even travel to events together, but then separate when you arrive, so you don't spend the whole event with each other.

6. Plan time in for networking. If you don't, the chances are it will never happen. So pick a time, plan it in your diary and stick to it. Don't let it fall down the priority list. This doesn't need to be a lot of time. It's more about doing little actions regularly and making it a habit. Be consistent. And don't just do it when you want something.

7. Be authentic and show vulnerability. I heard a quote last year which I love:

‘Vulnerability is the last thing I want you to see in me, but the first thing I look for in you’ - Brene Brown

The best relationships come from getting to know someone properly and that takes showing a bit of yourself. You don't need to be the awesome confident salesperson working the floor and schmoozing. Actually, people would probably like you a lot more if you weren't. So be brave, plan some time in and take some little steps to get in touch and show people the real, down to earth you.

Enjoy it. Networking is basically just making professional friends, and very often, in time, they become real friends. What's better than that?

What career questions do you have? Get in touch and Ellie will answer them in future editions.

About Ellie

Ellie Rich-Poole is The Recruitment Coach. She helps leaders land their perfect role and be brilliant in it, by playing to their strengths.

She coaches people at a critical moment of transition, helping them to move forward with positivity. She goes on the journey with them as a supporter and challenger to help them get to action and get results.

She has lived and worked in the UK, Germany, Chile and Singapore and enjoys supporting globally-minded individuals and organisations and making new friends. Wherever she is in the world she is always on the quest for a perfect cup of builders' tea, hailing originally from Yorkshire in England.

She is a Mentor for Protégé, an interview and personal branding coach for the Pipeline and an Ambassador for KidsOut. She has 25 years' experience in HR, Talent and headhunting.

She has studied at both Durham and Oxford University, is an International Coaching Federation ACC level Coach and a Strengths Profile Practitioner.

Find Ellie on her website


This is a free preview of "Inside Out". If you loved it, read the full magazine here>>

Your support helps us grow! ♡

Related Posts

See All

Growing up, we heard everywhere never to quit. Well, guess what? Quitting is not for losers. It's for those that can't stay where they are..

Get your digital magazine here

gif may2023.gif
bottom of page