I recently attended a seminar at my company about networking. Networking is crucial for career growth and is the stepping stone that can help you reach your dreams and goals. Many people think networking is simply building relationships and meeting people. But, strategic networking is different. Strategic networking is focused with a goal in mind.
Here the top networking barriers that might be holding you back:
1) Not being clear about what you want: You need to know where you want to go. Write it down, create a career map and identify the holes that might arise. A recent study showed that only 5% of Americans have goals written down. Being clear about what you want and writing it down is the only way that you will be able to find out who you need to talk to in order to learn the information you need to reach your goals.
2) Being afraid to ask others for help. I recently heard a man in my company say that women often approach him saying ” I know you are busy, but can you help me with something?” But, when men approach him, they say “I need your help” and what a difference that can make. Be assertive and don’t be afraid to ask others for help. People can’t read your mind! Let them know why you are reaching out to them and how they can help you get to the next level in your career.
3) Not having time to network. This is my biggest pitfall. I am often too busy with work and school to reach out and connect with someone over lunch. The key that I am working on is changing my thinking so that networking is a part of my job. I have learned that you have to make it a priority and this is my goal over the next year. If possible, think of your job as 50% in office and 50% connecting and building relationships with those in your office.
4) I am an introvert: If you are an introvert like me, it is hard to be open and let strangers into your life. To network, you have to be open and curious. You must also show up and be present in all conversations. Sometimes the hardest part is getting to the event but you will be glad you did once you get there. Meet one person and start speaking with them and asking questions. This way, it will be easier to meet others since you know one person very well. Also, don’t be afraid to speak up if you have something to say and have a question ready to ask such as “How did you get started in your career” or “What are you passionate about?”
[Related Post: How To Network Boldly as an Introvert]
5) Not sure who to connect with. Easy! Let your friends and family know your dreams and goals and ask them if they have any connections that they could introduce you to. Another great tip is every time you get to know someone new, ask them if there is anyone else they know that they could introduce you to. Never leave a meeting without another connection!
[Related Post: How to Find People to Network With]