I can be a loud person. A really loud person. But that’s when I am in groups of friends where I have a higher comfort level. Get me in a big networking event and suddenly I shrink up to nothing. My voice is small and meek, and my body language screams (or rather whispers) awkward and embarrassed.
Why? Because I’ve never liked networking. I hate asking people for favors or help. It makes me feel like a burden or disingenuous somehow. And yet here’s the bizarre twist: I never feel burdened when people ask me for help networking or finding a job. I jump at the chance to help. I know what it’s like to need help, so why do I think other people don’t?
So this entry is my cathartic exercise with you, readers, for the five reasons you should not fear networking.
1) Everyone has to get out in the job market and start somewhere. That’s really all there is. You have to start your job search somewhere and as scary as networking might be, it is even scarier to be out there alone.
2) Call me John Locke but I think people are inherently good. And if that’s the case, then it’s likely the people you meet will want to help you. So let them.
3) Even if people aren’t good and are just greedy, you’re not just asking for help. You may be able to help them along the road in their job search as well. Connections are vital to success in a globalized job market— not just for you, but for the people you meet as well.
4) Regardless of whether you get a job, you’ll get to connect with people. Maybe you’ll meet a friend or maybe just an acquaintance to follow on social media. By putting yourself out there though and networking, you’re likely to meet a variety of different individuals and broaden your social, as well as professional, network to aid your job search.
5) What do you have to lose? You’re on the hunt for a job and a career. The worst that can happen is someone says sorry, I can’t help you in your job search. There’s no shame in that.
So you see, networking doesn’t have to be scary! In case you’re still a little intimidated though, try bringing an acquaintance to a networking event to wing-man you. (Stipulation: don’t bring your best friend. He/she is great to go grab a drink with, catch a game and hundreds of other things, but when trying to meet new people he/she may act more as a crutch.)
Now get out into the job market and go network! Maybe I’ll even see you out there at an event.
IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Biker Jun