When is the last time you told your boss that you weren’t going to attend a meeting because you’re too shy…or an introvert? How often in your working life have you refused to attend a professional conference because you didn’t know anyone? And when have you ever turned down an opportunity to meet with new business prospects because you didn’t know what to talk about?
I would guess that your answer to those questions is probably never.
And yet, if you are taking steps to advance your career, especially if you’re in job search, you may find the prospect of networking to be daunting. I say this because as a long-time career coach, I’ve been on an epic crusade to get people in job search to make networking their priority. Unfortunately, they resist. In fact, they resist even knowing that some studies show more than 65 per cent of people land new jobs via networking
To be honest, there is nothing tougher than having to do something once you’ve reached a place of desperation. It’s like being on a tight rope and looking down. I get that. Yet, an ability to connect with people is a prerequisite to building trust.
And in this relationship economy we live in, trust is the currency of success. Clearly, trust can only develop in social interactions. In fact, it usually takes multiple, two-way conversations where there is mutual interest in what the other person has to say. So, being able to engage effectively is a fundamental business skill. I think you already know this.
The question is, do you have enough confidence in your conversational skills? No, I don’t mean your ability to talk about yourself. What I mean is whether or not you’re confident in your ability to truly listen and take an interest in what others have to say. Ultimately, you can’t expect people to take an interest in you, if you don’t take an interest in them. So, if you are ever going to succeed at “networking,” you first need to be a better listener. If you can’t do that, it won’t matter how carefully you’ve crafted your elevator pitch.
In fact, I’d argue that if you aren’t reasonably adept in your social skills, your prospects for success will be limited. Because today, there are few jobs that don’t require you to develop relationships with others, whether they managers, team members, or customers.
Which brings us to the one thing you need to know about networking: It IS your job.
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Do you have a point of view on this? If you do, I’d love to hear it. Just leave a comment.