Finding the Networking Approach That Is Comfortable For You

by on March 27, 2013

Finding the Networking Approach That Is Comfortable For You

200449839-003A lot has changed in my life in the last several years. One of the realities is that most of those that I see or speak to on a frequent basis, I did not know less than five years ago. A change in career, change in where you live and a new marriage will do that to you. The change in career, in particular, brought me into an environment that was previously very uncomfortable for me, and is one that I still believe I have room for growth. That environment is the world of networking with others, making those relationships and then building upon them. While those who have had businesses of their own, or have been in sales positions for example, are very familiar with networking with others, more are finding it an activity that has become a part of their life. From my observation the largest driver of this is the number of those who have been let go from long time jobs with one company, that now find themselves searching out what is next in their life.

For some of those individuals it may be becoming involved in their own entrepreneurial business, such as I did. Others are finding that as part of their job search they’re meeting with individuals they previously did not know at the outplacement company to which they were assigned upon end of their employment or at a neighborhood library meeting to assist those in transition. Networking is not a comfortable activity for many people. They often do not know what to say? Others are turned off at the prospect of being sold to, particularly if the event involves vendors or individuals looking to promote their business. However, in a world where individuals are actually finding employment positions lasting for a lot shorter period of time (some studies say as short as four years per assignment), and with businesses retrenching and redefining themselves frequently, networking is likely to go hand an hand with transition no matter what endeavor you are pursuing.

So, how do you handle such a situation if you are not comfortable with the thought of networking? Recently a coach I have been working with made an observation about me that I had failed to notice myself. He complimented me on not only my commitment to my practice, but how I acted as a catalyst to bring those who I met in different activities in which I took part together. For example, a program that I might learn about at one of the library transition groups that I facilitate was perfect to promote at my weekly networking breakfast and to my clients. Or I have made introductions of clients to speakers that I have met or heard that may have information from which my client might benefit. To me I was doing something that had become very natural to me. However, when thinking more about it, this behavior was an outgrowth of the networking I had done over the last several years. As I got more comfortable with networking groups that emphasized to look toward what you could do or give to others as opposed to looking for what you could immediately gain for yourself, I found a style that very much matched up to my personality. And, before one thinks that my networking became all give and no receive, by being who I am and taking actions that were comfortable for me, both the contacts in my life and the opportunities in my life began to grow. However, the secret all centered on finding an approach that was comfortable for me.

What worked for me, might not work for you. However, what you do know is what style works best for you when meeting others. Think of how you made friends at school or a job you held for a long time. How did you get to better know your neighbors? What I do believe is no matter what your style, there will be likely some aspect of gaining familiarity with your new contacts by meeting them several times before you gain comfort. Additionally, the best relationships tend to form when you and your new networking partner are able to give to each other. The key though is finding that comfort zone which is you and moving forward from there.

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