Insights Into Obstacles to Effective Networking (part 1): Clarity
|Career & Work Life Matters
Vol 2, no. 9
|Do you acknowledge that networking is a good thing to do, but struggle with what to do or how to do it? Begin by getting clear about what networking means for you.
|If you are a regular reader of books and articles on success in your career and work life, you have probably heard that building a professional network is essential.What has been your experience of networking?Is it easy or difficult? Is it enjoyable or do you feel it is something you “should” do?Do you find the whole thing rather confusing, even more so now that there is such an array of social media tools available?
Knowing it’s a “good thing to do” in not enough. If you experience confusion or even feelings of aversion towards networking, you are not alone. One reason people struggle is that they have never had any training in how to do it.
Let’s being with a fundamental question: What is networking?
What Does Networking Mean to You?
How would you feel if you knew you had the skills you need to build a group of allies who would support your personal and professional development?
For many people, the first obstacle is not having a clear understanding of what networking is. A good place to begin is to write down your own definition by completing the sentence below.
For me personally, networking means …..
Now that you have considered your own definition, take a minute to review some experts’ definitions.
How is Networking Defined by Experts in the Field?
A few examples from the experts:
(L Michelle Tullier; author of Networking for Job Search and Career Success)
(Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon; authors of Make Your Contacts Count)
(Devora Zack: author of Networking for people who Hate Networking)
Creating a Personal Definition
It is clear from this small expert sample, that there is no single definition of networking. However, most experts agree that networking includes connection and exchange.
How do these definitions compare with your personal definition? Review what you wrote above. What can you add or take away to refine your personal definition?
Now that you are clear about what networking means to you personally, you are well placed to move forwards.
Between now and the next issue, pay attention to what happens when you decide to make a new professional connection. By noticing any reactions you have you will have better insight into what may be helping and hindering you.
Future issues will focus on other common obstacles that get in the way, such as unhelpful beliefs and time pressures.