Stepping into Cold Water

An approach for people who are afraid of networking

There is no doubt, and it is common knowledge that networking is one of the fundamental ingredients of a successful career. Why then many people cannot engage in this concrete practice to raise their chances of success in their professional lives? Talking with my clients and with the members of Altitude’s group on WhatsApp, I noticed the following reasons: shyness, lack of confidence, blocking mindsets, fear of being inconvenient or rejected, and unawareness of the importance networking has. Are any of those your reasons? If so, please, keep reading! There are ways to overcome this barrier and take advantage of this marvelous way of connection, self-giving, interaction, learning, and growth that will bear many benefits to your professional life, whether in the job searching process, seeking for a promotion, or pursuing professional development.

I used to be very shy when I was younger! A lot indeed! But shyness fades away as you get to know yourself, experiment with new things, and find out that meeting new people neither hurts nor harms you; on the contrary, it enriches your life! Here are some suggestions for you to connect naturally, practically, and easily. 

  1. Go slowly. – You know when the swimming pool water is cold, and you slowly put your foot into it, getting your arms wet first, wading into waist-deep until you can finally dive into it? It can be a good alternative for you on networking. Start by taking on small challenges and learn progressively, getting confident and taking one risk at a time.
  1. Think about the results! – If you are in a job search process, remember that networking will put you in contact with the “hidden job market.” Did you know that about 80% of the jobs are not posted – they are filled through networking – and that, out of the 20% posted on newspapers or online sites, about 80% are also filled by networking? Is it worth it to step into the water? For sure! And it does not end there. Networking keeps you updated, helps you find creative solutions for problems, makes you get in touch with informed and connected people, and helps you search companies and people related to your job searching process. Besides, it is a source of information for interviews and provides healthy exchanges and the most varied mutual benefits for those who engage in this process. You do not want to miss all that, do you?
  1. Know yourself! – This is a string I will always harp on! Self-knowledge is a fundamental ingredient in the job searching process. Knowing yourself, identifying your values, and what you have to offer to the market will strengthen your self-image and prepare you to articulate that value in your speech in whichever circumstances and kind of networking you may get involved. When you acknowledge your value, it is easier to expose yourself. A Career Coach can help you immensely to identify your profile, competencies, and values of your former experiences. 
  1. Get ready! – It is necessary to have a discourse prepared (the famous elevator speech) and a clear plan for your networking interactions. Do not improvise! Have a speech that is previously structured, practiced, and analyzed by other people and yourself. Even the improvising musician has to have a previous idea of structure to improvise. Study the people you will meet, find out their interests, and have subjects and engagement strategies up your sleeve.
  1. Observe the extroverted experts in networking and learn from them. – Every communication is a performance. And every performance is improved by observation and practice. Do you have a super social friend, the life of the party? Stick to them and learn their strategies. Nobody is born knowing, and we learn from each other socially. “Walk with the wise and become wise,” says the proverb. Do you want to improve your networking? Join the ones who are good at it.
  1. Who offers help is never inconvenient! Give yourself up! – Networking is not about you. The focus is on the other person. It is always advisable to approach people by helping, giving, being useful. If there is a mutual give-and-take, you will never be inconvenient. Professional networking is not about asking for a job around. When you network properly, you become cherished, respected, and appreciated.
  1. Look for a Career Coach. – You do not look for a doctor to help you learn to play the piano, do you? The best professional to help you learn how to network is the Career Coach! They have the specific training you need. Do not fall behind just because you cannot network! Look for a specialist to help you!

I am available to whoever needs to improve their networking performance. I also had to learn this art, and still learn from each interaction. Even if you are a shy person, it is possible to overcome fears and insecurity and become a great networker and professional with much success as a consequence! Get in touch! Get connected! Book a courtesy appointment here on the website!

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