Myth #1 – I need to impress people
Many people believe that networking is all about impressing others with their accomplishments or knowledge. Do you enjoy listening to someone listing off all their achievements or name-dropping in order to impress you? Of course not – it’s the quickest way to turn people off.
What you can do instead: Stop worrying about impressing others, go to an event with a curious mind and focus on learning from others rather than talking about yourself and impressing them with your accomplishments. Be genuinely curious and listen and respond to what others are saying – everyone enjoys talking to an attentive listener.
Myth #2 – It’s only for extroverts
If you’re an introvert or a naturally shy person, networking events can be scary. You may feel awkward and it can appear that everyone else knows other people and you don’t know anyone. You can end up standing all by yourself at the edge of the room wishing the ground would open up and swallow you.
What you can do instead: Remind yourself that vast majority of people feel at least a little uncomfortable with networking and that includes the extroverts. Plan ahead and have some conversation starters ready or simply smile and ask “May I join you” to an individual or a group of people you’d like to talk to.
Myth #3 – I need to put on an act
Some people feel the need to pretend to be someone they’re not to succeed at networking. Can you tell when someone is putting on an act? You can sense that they’re not really being themselves. The conversation doesn’t flow naturally and they seem very conscious of how they sound and what they’re saying, You do not want to be that person.
What you can do instead: Get comfortable with being yourself. You’re not supposed to make great connections with everyone you meet. We’re all different and with some of the people you meet, you’ll know instantly that you feel comfortable with them and others you won’t and that’s OK.
Myth #4 – Pushy people will try to sell me something
It’s true that sometimes you’ll meet a very unsophisticated networker who thinks they have permission to monopolize you and try to sell you on whatever product, service or other agenda they may be pushing. While this happens rarely, it can be rather off-putting and it’s best to have a strategy to extricate yourself if that happens.
What you can do instead: Be prepared with an exit line if you find yourself in this situation. You could simply say “It’s been quite interesting talking to you however, I feel I may be monopolizing you and we probably both should make an effort to meet some other people”. It’s polite and yet it makes the point and allows you to extricate yourself from the conversation and move on.
Myth #5 – It’s a waste of my time
If you haven’t thought strategically about where you go to network, some events can feel like a waste of time, although personally I find that I take something of value away from every interaction with another person. If you go with the mindset that you really don’t want to be there and there is nothing of value for you, this is what you will experience.
What you can do instead: Develop a personal networking strategy. Get clear on the type of people you want to meet, find out where they go and attend those events. Plan ahead and bring your conversation starters and be ready to answer the question “So what do you do?” succinctly and in a way that will encourage people to want to learn more about you.
I used to hate to network and now I’ve learned to love it. The good news for those who resist networking is that the more you do it the easier it becomes.
I offer a networking workshop in Victoria monthly and speak and deliver workshops on networking for businesses, professional organizations and conferences upon request.
Want some one-on-one help with networking and can’t make it to one of my Victoria workshops? Reach out to me at SueMaitland@shaw.ca and let’s explore how I can support you.