Q: I have always struggled with networking, not because I avoid people, but when at work, I focus on getting my job done. I should know how to reach out , but it feels phony. I now have more time to reach out, but I am unsure what to say. How do you start networking when you are out of shape?
A: Most know that connecting with others plays an important role in their career growth, albeit to some it’s the least favorite activity. One of the best things about networking is that you can start any time.
Having regrets over not reaching out to people earlier does not help with momentum in your search. Thinking about what you should have done only leads to self-doubt, strengthening your awkwardness in connecting with others. The truth is that every person in the workforce needs one another. No one lives on a career island where self-sufficiency is enough. The key to networking is understanding it and how to be yourself.
Out of all the job search skills you need throughout your career, learning how to connect with people will be the one that gets you through the ups and downs of the marketplace.
If you lean toward being introverted, networking can feel overwhelming. Even if you enjoy meeting people and exchanging information, there appears to be an element of “being phony” when you focus on your needs rather than learning about others.
Think about how often you network throughout your day while taking care of business. Whether it is running errands or attending a baseball game, more than likely, you are among people who share a common interest. The difference between meeting people at a game and gathering for a professional association is your attitude toward it.
Here are some ways to change your mindset toward networking and to feel genuine:
Reach out to people with an attitude of expanding your knowledge of industries, employers, and trends in your career field. Talking with people empowers you and takes the focus off your needs. Learning more about others and exchanging information is the core of networking.
Start expanding your network today by connecting with other Phi Kappa Phi members in Link, the Society’s exclusive online community. Visit Link.PhiKappaPhi.org/Profile to update your profile, and click here to start browsing today! To learn more about Link, visit www.PhiKappaPhi.org/Link.
Do you have questions about networking? If so, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll follow up.