Hate Networking? Don't Do It!

Social networking, networking events, speed networking, alumni networking. That overused term — Networking… it’s enough to make anyone overwhelmed and stuck. Especially if you’re someone who has been working steadily, paying attention to making projects move along the way they’re supposed to. Not to mention taking care of kids, home, pets and maybe Little League, and then staying on top of the news. But suddenly the apple cart is turned up-side-down — news of a lay-off comes. Now you’re supposed to start networking (can you hear the exasperation?). My clients routinely tell me ‘I hate networking!’ ‘Agh – it’s the networking that’s the worst!’ ‘I hate those time wasting events that you have to go to. Why bother?’ I have heard more versions of that statement. Personally, I love to meet new people. I love to learn about what others are thinking and learning and arguing about. I love to eavesdrop and make up stories about people I see in grocery stores and airports. I can spin a yarn about people in the car next to me at stop light by watching how they’re talking, or not, to each other. OK, so that’s me.

The thing I’ve found with my clients is that we have to get past that idea that networking is torture. And that’s by just genuinely talking with people. People we like are always easier to talk with. No brainer. By dismantling what we think networking has to be and then simply connect with others in a person-to-person way we find that the loathsome activity becomes interesting and fulfilling.

Think about who you can reach out to today — not to network but to talk with them about how they’re doing. You have time now to connect — that’s a fact. So share that and find out what’s happening in someone else’s world. You may find you have new friends in former (or new) contacts. We all have to be very kind these days (we’ve always needed to do that, but now it’s imperative) to people — whether others are showing it or not the ground is moving beneath their feet too.

If you do happen to be one of those who are up for meeting new people of like mind I highly recommend checking out www.MeetUp.com. Find out what’s happening in your city or town. You may be surprised to see just how many people are getting together to talk about interesting topics. I attended a MeetUp group this week in Westwood, Tech Exec, and found smart, engaging people to talk with. No hotel ballroom to contend with, either.