Well, let’s start with the good news. If you’re reading this post, you have made one positive step already. Most people avoid activities they hate. You are realistic enough to know that despite your disdain for networking, you realize you need to do it to have a successful job search. I want to focus on two critical networking impediments I believe no one who hates networking will ever get past disdaining without resolving.
Get clear on how networking really works
The first involves the huge lack of understanding of how networking works. Too many people perceive it as just contacting people they either don’t know or haven’t spoken to in a long time and asking for job leads. From such a perspective, is it surprising that people hate the prospect of networking? Most people correctly see such actions as superficial, insincere, and selfish.
But that’s not what networking is. Networking starts with people sharing information that could prove helpful to all parties involved. In the longer term, it becomes the process of establishing and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships.
How will you be perceived?
The second issue stems from many people’s belief that having to network will ultimately lead others to perceive them in a negative manner. Someone out of work worries that he may be viewed as damaged goods. Well with the multiple economic downturns world economies have had in the last two decades, most people have either had a period of unemployment or known a close family member, friend, or colleague that has. Any stigma has vanished. I always ask people struggling with this how perceive someone that tells them they’ve lost their job. Once they admit they never make negative assumptions about such an individual, I ask why they assume such perceptions will be made of them.
Another individual might view her asking someone for information is an imposition on the individual’s time. We all have developed our own wealth of knowledge and expertise throughout our careers. This does not vanish during periods we’re between jobs. As stressed above, networking is about fellow professionals sharing information which can prove beneficial to both parties. Not many people view such opportunities as an imposition on their time.
So ask yourself if any of these beliefs are what holds you back from networking. Then take a closer look at how realistic these perceptions are. Committing to improving your networking skills will take time, commitment, and patience. It will be difficult to sustain this commitment when it’s focused on an activity you believe turns you into a pariah.