Networking is something that makes a lot of people cringe—and understandably so. When people think of the word “networking,” images of forced and insincere flattery comes to mind.
But that’s more often the case when networking is an event—a ritual you perform every once in awhile. Practiced as part of a routine, it can be a lot more livable—just another way of building meaningful relationships. The best time to network is not when you need something, but when you don’t actually have a specific ask in mind. Here’s why, and how to get better at networking when there’s no obvious need you’re trying to fulfill.
Why You Need To Network When It Feels Pointless
Many will immediately recoil at the idea of networking outside the confines of specific events, purpose-built for the occasion, and when there’s a clearly defined need they’re trying to fulfill. After all, networking usually requires pursuing people individually, even if it’s on a casual basis and possibly getting rejected or ignored over and over again.
But there is a reason why many people don’t respond to those inquiries. If in-demand executives or investors said yes to every drinks invite they receive, their blood alcohol content would be high enough to count as its own kind of spirit. Not to mention, the idea of picking someone’s brain isn’t always comfortable or appealing, particularly if alcohol is involved.
So what should networking look like outside of, “Let me buy you a drink”—or even just a coffee? It shouldn’t look like anything in particular. Networking should be a habit, not an event that you put together at the last minute because your company finds its coffers empty or your career needs a reboot.
Being on the lookout for new contacts who might be instrumental to your business shouldn’t just happen at TechCrunch Disrupt or SXSW, it’s something entrepreneurs and professionals should do regularly. This way, you’ll train your brain to be more aware of any and all networking opportunities, and landing valuable connections will become a more intuitive practice that you don’t need to work so hard at.
Making Connections Without Making Asks
Fortunately, there are plenty of simple ways to network every day, when you aren’t looking for anything specific. Start with your inbox, your Twitter DMs, and LinkedIn. While most people are too busy to meet with someone they don’t know, they will often have time to read and respond to an email, provided that it’s executed properly.
Source via FastCompany Newsletter