By Erica Francis
Thanks to LinkedIn, networking no longer evokes images of ruthless, power-hungry colleagues climbing over everything – and everyone – in their paths to get to the top.
But, myths about networking remain because of the negative connotation it has inspired for so long. The truth is, professionals cannot afford not to network.
Building professional relationships opens doors, establishes trust, and solidifies careers in a way that few other activities can. So, it’s time to strip away the myths and get to the truth behind four common networking myths, once and for all.
Myth 1: Outgoing people network best
Networking is not about being the loudest or the most popular person in the room or at the networking event. Extroverts may seem to have a leg up on quieter, shyer types, but successful networking really requires using strategy. Your strengths may work against you in networking situations, so focusing on other people will foster connections and collaborations.
Myth 2: The only way to network is to attend networking events
Official networking events can be painful, even for the most social professionals. The good news is, there is a lot more to networking than networking events. Try getting creative when looking for networking opportunities. Alumni gatherings, neighborhood cookouts, sporting events, and other social events can be just as fruitful for networking as official networking events. In fact, in many cases, building weak ties has been shown to be more successful than nurturing strong professional alliances.
It’s also a pretty safe bet that getting creative and meeting more people will help you to build professional networks as well. So, you might also start your own side project within the sharing economy, perhaps as a dog walker, pet sitter, or tasker, to meet people and build ties. You never know who’ll you’ll meet, and by doing a good job for them through your sharing economy business, they’ll see you’re a responsible, reliable professional. Anytime you start meeting people and making connections, you create networking opportunities for yourself.
Myth 3: Networking guarantees a job
Networking is about making connections to get interviews and opportunities; it is not a guarantee of employment. True networking should be about showcasing your skills and your talents, and not about getting a job simply because of who your connections are. Professionals who earn their positions through their hard work and abilities are much more respected and liked than those who attempt to gain positions because of who they know. The truth is, you should allow your networks to develop into opportunities and then put forth your best professional self at your interview to get the job you want.
Myth 4: Networking ends when you are employed
Building professional relationships should be an ongoing process; networking should not end simply because you land a position. Networking aids you in the event of a layoff or business closure, but it also helps you to help others in their own networking ventures. It’s also very common for companies to offer referral bonuses, and networking could help you to earn some extra cash. The benefits of networking are nearly endless.
There is a great deal of talk, and an even greater number of misconceptions, about networking. In reality, networking is about making connections and building your professional circle to broaden your opportunities and help yourself and others.
Thanks to my guest blogger Erica Francis who loves working with ReadyJob.org to teach young people how to get started in the job market. In her spare time, she enjoys horseback riding, crocheting, and acting at her town’s community theater.
Image courtesy photostock at freedigitalphotos.net