Hate Networking Tips

10 Tips For People Who Hate Networking

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Do you associate networking with shameless self-promotion and ‘more = more’? Does that make your stomach turn? Me too!

Networking has a bad reputation as a forum for superficial small talk. Yet real networking is about establishing mutually beneficial, lasting connections, one person at a time. And with my modern approach to networking, even you can shine and thrive at a board meeting, convention, or free-floating cocktail party.

The reason so many of us hate networking – and profess to stink at it – is because we’ve been futilely following the wrong rules. Rules that only work for a paltry 15% of the population and require us to be phony – a sure fire way to short circuit.

10 Tips For People Who Hate Networking

Networking for People Who Hate Networking (Berrett-Koehler 2010), which is translated into 11 languages, offers a completely new – and infinitely more effective take – on networking. Networking isn’t about working a room or telling everyone how fabulous you are. Real networking is building meaningful, lasting, mutually beneficial connections one person at a time.

This new and improved definition of networking means being true to you; capitalizing on your strengths, and tossing aside ‘rules’ that don’t match your temperament. The book’s self-assessment identifies your networking style. However, here are a few tidbits designed especially for you:

1. Be True To You

You are better qualified to be you than anyone else. Stamp out networking advice that demands you behave in ways that drain you. Harness natural abilities as networking strengths rather than liabilities. Like to listen, not talk? Do it. Energize alone? Go for it. Prefer one-on-one conversation? Arrange it.

2. Realize Less Is More

Be selective. Go to fewer events and be more focused when attending – rather than dragging your weary self to every business opportunity and showing up like a networking prisoner.

3. Plan Your First Impression

Cognitive scientists say it can take up to 200 times the amount of information to undo a first impression as it takes to make one. Who has that kind of spare time? Not you! Show up with the best version of you, every time. You never know who you are meeting.

4. Volunteer

Many of us dislike networking events because we don’t know what to say to a group of strangers. Free floating through a room is a fast track to free-floating anxiety. What to do? Simple. Volunteer to help out. Voila! You have a purpose and something to talk about. Even better, you position yourself as someone helpful – proving how indispensable you are rather than telling everyone about it.

5. Get In Line

This strategy is brilliant. You walk into a networking event with nowhere to go and no one to glom onto. What’s a desperate networker to do? Get in a queue. Any queue. The longer the better!

Why? A queue gives you a place to put your body and a temporary purpose in the world. There are only two people to talk with – the person in front and person behind you. There is a reward – whatever is given out at the front of the queue. And a natural ending – the front of the queue. Nice meeting you!  Ta-ta!

6. Set Challenging Yet Achievable Networking Goals

Well-formed goals vary by personality. At a networking event, task yourself with meeting one or two people, not a dozen. And follow up (see #10!).

7. Show Don’t Tell

Rather than boring others with a canned advert of how marvelous you are, demonstrate live-time your fabulous self. Be useful and gracious. Greet others with a warm smile and leap at every chance to be helpful.

8. Research

Rather than wandering cavernous expo halls at industry events, do your pre-work. Learn in advance what organizations are of particular interest. Spend more time with fewer people. Impress key targets with your knowledge of who they are and why you are a perfect match.

9. Listen

Ever sense your remarks just shoot off a cliff and crash to the ground? Who needs that kind of pressure? Instead focus on those around you, asking thoughtful questions. Network via a sincere interest in others rather than promoting your fine self.

10. Follow-Up Or Forget About It

If you’re not following up, you’re not networking! We forget half of what we hear within 48 hours. Write personalized follow-up within two days or risk having your brilliant remarks erased permanently from the minds of those you wowed. If you’re not following up, you’re not networking.

Good luck out there! See you at a networking event. I’ll be standing alone by the buffet. Come say hi!


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Devora Zack

Ms. Zack, CEO Only Connect Consulting, is the author of Managing for People Who Hate Managing and Networking for People Who Hate Networking . Her books are translated into 14 languages, and she provides keynotes and seminars internationally.

10 comments

  1. Networking provides an opportunity to meet others who are experiencing similar difficulties finding work in their respective occupations. Ideas can be shared as to how to format resume to emphasize bullets at beginning of a resume followed by an abbreviated chrological summary (if required by your industry,) I have shared my resume format and business card format with others to save them time in the preparation or refinement of their respective networking tools. I often know of a recriter or job posting I had seen recently that is similar to their skills. The sharing of information is reciprocal.

  2. Good points! One thing I’d add is that apart from achieving business/professional related goals – networking with peers who are NOT in the same field as you is a good way of getting some inspiration & getting out of your comfort zone. As in –https://netguru.co/blog/posts/new-ideas-for-building-a-professional-network– “(…)the deeper purpose of networking – It isn’t just to generate exposure, or find potential business leads; it is also about creating a network of diverse individuals that you can learn from, and exchange ideas with.”

  3. Why do I hate networking? Because it doesn’t work.

    I have forwarded my resume for a potential job and had it returned with critiques, based on that person’s opinion. I follow up with the people I send it to (via LinkedIn) and hear nothing back.

    It is in my nature to smile and be polite and mention that I’m looking for employment without being pushy.

    NO ONE ASKS what I am looking for or asks for me to forward my resume. I usually get “so am I” or “that’s too bad”.

    I think networking only works if you are young. In my case, I’m looking for office admin and feel I’m selling milk to a dairy farmer.

    • Sorry to hear you have not found value in networking STB03.

      Networking has nothing to do with your resume or asking for a job. It is all about meeting people, getting to know them and them getting to know you as a person, developing some level of a relationship so that you can help each other.

      Often all you want from a new networking connection is one thing – the name of the next person to talk with. When you make real connections with the people you are networking with & get to know, they will know enough about you and be able to introduce you to that next important connection.

      Networking (conversations) will get you that next job, regardless of age. I coach job seekers as old as 70 who have gotten their job via a conversation.

      I encourage you to read the book, “Networking for Mutual Benefit,” http://www.amazon.com/Networking-Mutual-Benefit-developing-relationships/dp/0988915502

      Believe in yourself and your skills, have lots of good open friendly conversations and it’ll happen, not overnight, but it will happen.

      I hope this response has been useful to you.

  4. Thank-you for sharing . I particularly like the point about volunteering as I have signed up to do a three month assignment at a legal clinic while I am hob searching for a full time legal clinic assignment, and I am scheduled to start a three month assignment in January. . I just figure that it will give me an excellent reference for any future possible paralegal jobs.

  5. Why you have to underline everything ? It is quite annoying..
    The website is not customized..everything pump up and I can not even know what I am writing in a comment..

    • Hi Tony – I used to have the same problem. I now use Chrome on my computer. The careerealism site looks great on this browser. The comment boxes are easy to navigate, even though I wish the text entry was Black vs grey.
      I hope this info is helpful to you

  6. I always read this type of article, hoping to learn something that will make networking less painful – and am usually disappointed. Not this time! I love the volunteer idea, because it’s so true – if you have a purpose to be there and things to do, the networking comes naturally. Thank you!

  7. Thanks for a good article Devora.

    I will share this with my students.

    Networking is only a dirty word when the intent is to “Grip & grin and collect business cards.”

    When you Network for Mutual Benefit, it’s more enjoyable and rewarding.

    That’s what the Book, “Networking for Mutual Benefit” teaches
    Find it on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Networking-Mutual-Benefit-developing-relationships/dp/0988915502

    Thanks for sharing

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