As leaders, we are under so much pressure to perform. We feel as though everything we do is being closely scrutinised and it can quickly become overwhelming.
Under such pressure, many leaders start to hold themselves back; to play it safe, and avoid risk, especially when it comes to the relationships they build with others. It’s no wonder some people cringe at the thought of networking.
We’re Made to Be Social.
Humans are designed to be social and to value connections. We need people to help us grow and build better careers. If you’re caught in a dilemma between needing to network but not wanting to put yourself out there, remember this: You need to have meaningful interactions if you want to develop mutual trust and respect, and if this is missing I would suggest on some level you’re afraid.
Perhaps you tell yourself you’re too busy and don’t have time. Your reluctance may have more to do with a fear of rejection or failure then time.
To connect with others in any meaningful way, you need to be authentic, warm and approachable. You can’t forge strong connections when you are acting the part of the person you think you should be.
The Power of Being Yourself
It uses up a lot of physical and mental energy trying to be something that you are not, but that isn’t the only drawback. Most of us, instinctively, know when something is a little ‘off’ with someone else. Nothing will cause a new connection’s internal guard to go up and damage a new relationship more quickly, than not being what you appear to be.
If you’re going to make the effort to network, just be yourself. You’ll enjoy the process a lot more.
For Connections, You Can Count On, Be Yourself
The whole point of networking is to build relationships with people who can aid or guide you in your career, and whom you can help, too. The bigger your network, the more likely it is you’ll know the right person when you need help. It’s about building long term relationships, not just meeting someone new. Can you imagine how difficult that relationship will be if you’re not being true to yourself?
Wouldn’t it be better to be yourself and find people you click with? Wouldn’t it be better to be yourself and discover which people you don’t click with? Then you’re at least on a level playing field.
Find Networking Events to Suit You.
Not every networking event is the same. If you dislike big events, look for smaller ones. Look beyond work-based networks and start thinking social. You can network just as well over coffee as you can in a meeting room. There are all sorts of groups around the place where you can meet new people. You never know who you’ll come across that knows the right person, the right opportunity or can teach you exactly what you need to know.
You can’t build a solid network based on one or two meetings. You need to stay in touch and start working on your relationship long term. You can do this by phone, email or even via social media. You don’t have to go to an event or even regularly see your new contacts if that’s out of your comfort zone. However, I do encourage you to find a way to meet face-to-face sometimes. Choose a place and situation you’re comfortable with. The odds are your new contact will like it, too.
If you hate networking, stop thinking of it as a formal process and start thinking of it as catching up with people. It takes the pressure off and makes it easier to relax and be yourself. Bring the real you when you network. That’s who people want to meet.
Do you struggle with networking, or are you unsure of how to present your best and authentic self? Executive Coaching is designed for leaders like you who are looking for a little support to help realise their strengths and to network confidentially in any situation. Email me today to find out how I can help you!