Networking Burnout

3 Ways To Avoid Networking Burnout

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It’s easy to become comfortable in your current job or workplace and think that networking efforts aren’t really necessary. Because that’s what it is – an effort, right? But not staying professionally current and connected can have serious negative implications on your overall career development.

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The reality is, change is inevitable and it often happens when we are least expect it. Not being equipped with the right tools for your next search can cost both precious time and possibly even a position you were hoping for.

On average, job hunters without viable networks spend the first two to three months of a job hunt building a new set of contacts. This is why networking regularly sets your career up for long-term success.

Watch: How To Stop Being Random With Your Networking Efforts

Susan O’Dwyer, head of business development for a leading public accounting firm, made an excellent point when she said:

People in transition often wait to connect with people when they need help. They have allowed themselves to be consumed by their job, travel and other priorities, and not nurtured their relationships along the way. When these bonds wither and die, not only are they difficult to resurrect, you lose access to people who really know you and could speak to your talents and skills as a credible reference.

Networking can be taxing, no doubt about it. I also acknowledge that not everyone is comfortable with the process, and some even find it to be somewhat dreadful. The key is to make the way you network fit your personality and style. Like any big task in front of us, thinking about networking in small chunks makes it more manageable, and even enjoyable. Here are three ways to network with intent and avoid burnout:

1. Focus on helping others

Networking can feel very “me”-centric. It’s a common mistake among professionals to only reach out to their network when they need something, which can come across as intrusive and needy. When meeting new connections, use it as an opportunity to ask what you can do to assist them first. Reach out and offer advice, make an introduction, recommend their work, etc. These simple gestures can help to create more lasting connections.

2. Networking is best one-on-one

Meeting over coffee is a more natural way to carry on a conversation versus large group gatherings. You don’t need to start out cold either. Meet first with people you have known over your career and people with whom you have another connection (kid’s sports, school, church, family, etc.). From that meeting, ask them to make 2-3 introductions via email to people they know who may be aligned with your professional goals. That “warm” introduction allows both parties to feel comfortable about meeting.

3. Build time into your schedule

Networking can’t be something that happens “if I have time.” By not making it a priority, it’s constantly weighing on you as something you aren’t getting done – and that can be more exhausting than actually networking. Set aside time for 3-4 lunch meetings per month with those you need to catch up with, or contacts met through a peer that you want to get to know better. Integrating networking into everyday activities is what will yield the most successful and mutually beneficial relationships.

Keep in mind there isn’t one roadmap for how to network. By making the process your own, you will feel most at ease and be able to capitalize on this important career development tool. A change in attitude and approach will lead to more professional opportunities than you will know what to do with. What have been your favorite networking techniques and tips?

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock


Randy Hain

Randy Hain is Partner with Bell Oaks Executive Search, published author and speaker. His book is LANDED! Proven Job Search Strategies for Today’s Professional.

2 comments

  1. She could be burning a bridge John. She could also be lots of other things, either positive or negative in nature.

    I teach networking and the use of social media and run into this question often. The best answer I can provide is to keep expanding your network. Accept that there will always be people in your network who may not be willing/able to help. This is not unusual at all.

    Focus your energy on growing your network, not on a single person in your network.
    Read the book Networking for Mutual Benefit on Amazon.com – it may help you further.

    I hope this helps in some way

  2. Again again, it doesn’t list the part or issue when it comes to networking when despite doing everything listed above the best way possible that the networking contact created won’t respond back or a coffee or appointment isn’t scheduled. When will it ever list in these articles how a positive can come after one always trying to go out of his/her way with contacts and trying to set things up with others but unfortunately some contacts who are such seasoned professionals and well-respected don’t make the appointment and it keeps getting put off? It really hurts how one seasoned lady who did an informational interview with me in 2010 and has offered some support before with usual responses in 2010 and 2011 after we have created a connection since 2010 from the informational interview. I always going out of my way to offer articles and see how I can help till this day, but sadly I don’t hear back from her like I used to, but connected to her on FB or LinkedIn. In 2011 and 2012, I would try to set up an appointment, but she would always list her busy scheduled up ahead and has mentioned 2 funerals at times and when she is free next and when I would try for the dates of free it didn’t happen.

    Even though I am trying to be positve, it gets to me and would like to discuss on her to receive some feedback. She is longtime close friends with a longtime family friend of mine and I take it personally when I am not followed up with or given the time from all the positive intent and time and energy invested. Why should it ever come to such after an info interview created at 1st and touch between us on good sharing of resources and I always being best I can? Do you all think this lady is burning a bridge? Instances like this are hindering me and creating distrust especially after a bridge created. Wish there was always clear insight on whom to find that will always stick around and where bond can flourish especially if a person is reached out to, like-minded and a seasoned professional with such accomplishments and connected with a longtime family friend. Sorry for the long post, just wanted to share w/ feedback requested. Thanks! Trying to remain upbeat and do best I can.

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