As the business world starts to welcome in-person gatherings again, we’re constantly getting asked, “I’m so out of practice—how can I begin networking again?” Today we’ll explore 6 common myths about networking to help you return to networking with confidence.
Before we get started, let’s define networking. What is it? Networking means building mutually beneficial relationships. Networking is all about making contacts, creating relationships, finding out more about others, and starting to make friends. We like to think about networking with confidence as weaving a net or network of support.
MYTH: Networking is only for young people who are job searching.
TRUTH: Networking is for everyone. At any stage in your career, you should constantly be adding people to your net, so that when you need to cast it you have a larger net. Consider attending a networking event with a friend, so you can feel more comfortable and introduce people to each other.
MYTH: Networking is difficult work.
TRUTH: Networking is more about weaving than work. You are weaving a network of support by meeting and getting to know people. These are people you can reach out to at any point in your career for support, advice, and career opportunities. Don’t think of networking as hard work, but as a long-term investment. If you’re nervous, don’t let self-doubt take over. Just go and show up! Set a reasonable goal for yourself, for example, “I’m going to meet 2 new people today.” The only way to increase your comfort level is to actually do it.
MYTH: You’re the only one interested in networking.
TRUTH: Everybody is there to network! That’s why we attend events. If you are looking to find ways to connect with others and build your contact base, you are in good company. To prepare to network, you should have your own “elevator pitch” ready that describes who you are and what you do. Make it concise but intriguing, so that someone can ask questions to learn more.
MYTH: Networking primarily involves exchanging business cards.
TRUTH: Networking might involve business cards, but it’s certainly not a requirement. Networking simply means starting to get to know a few new people at an event or meeting that you attended. Remember to engage the other person as a person. The conversation will naturally transition to what you do for work, but it doesn’t have to start there. Try to find a personal point of connection first.
MYTH: Networking can only happen in work-sponsored events.
TRUTH: Any gathering can be an appropriate networking spot, as long as you can find something in common with the person you are meeting. Consider gatherings you already belong to—perhaps the chamber of commerce, association or industry events, community boards, school, sports, and/or places you volunteer. Check your local event directory to find an open event that is of interest to you and give it a try!
Lastly, don’t forget — every public program we offer is a wonderful networking opportunity! Make the most of every opportunity and Lead to the Max!®