I realized recently that we haven’t talked in FAR too long about networking — so with tons of holiday parties and other company events coming up, now seems like a great time to discuss. What are your THREE best networking tips — and where did they come from? (Did you learn them the hard way, read them somewhere, or have them passed down by a sage mentor?) These are my best networking tips, but I’d love to hear yours…
1. Don’t Just Think About Networking UP
Networking is about a lot more than just getting to be buddy-buddy with the boss. You should view your colleagues, subordinates, competitors and more all as being part of your network. Your fellow students, teachers, and adjuncts, too! I’ve always been amazed at people who seem to drop old colleagues the second they leave for a new job.
2. Networking Tip #2: Don’t Just Look For People Who Can Offer You Jobs (And Don’t Only Network When You’re Looking For a New Job)
Networking is about a lot more than just looking for a new job or opportunity — and a HUGE mistake is people who ONLY pay attention to their network when they need something. On a meta level I suppose you are looking for mentors, sponsors, and other people who you can learn from (or even just people who always know the best resources and PLACES to learn, like that colleague who’s always just come back from that amazing seminar or conference you never even heard of). But on a macro level you’re looking for friends and interesting people along a similar career journey. (Or, as someone who’s changed her career in a major way, I’ve written in the past about how people with similar skillsets and backgrounds are great to keep in your network to see where they go and what they do with those shared skills, background and experience.)
3. Finally: Don’t Be Afraid to Network (But Don’t Be Entitled)
There was that cringe-worthy video earlier this year of a certain famous daughter trying to schmooze with world leaders, with the world leaders ignoring what she said, talking past her, and all but rolling their eyes. I don’t know about you, but a fun part of my imposter syndrome has always been the fear that this is the response I’d get if I tried to network with people I truly admired. But that has not been the case — I’ve made friends with a lot of people who I was blown away even to be talking to, and managed to make them part of my network. (Perhaps as part of my imposter syndrome, I credit being very prepared (either naturally or otherwise) with these networking successes.) But, just like that video of the daughter trying and failing to schmooze, I know readers have shared story after story of The Intern Who Thought He Knew Everything and Wouldn’t Shut Up. So… don’t be that entitled person.
Readers, what are your best networking tips? How has your approach to networking changed over the years — and what were some of the biggest networking mistakes you (or others) made along the way?