Dread Networking? Here’s How to Make It Feel Less Icky. - Deepstash
Networking Professionally

The professional benefits of networking are well-documented. But if the very thought makes you squirm with discomfort, you aren’t alone.

Networking makes people feel morally impure, especially workers lower on the professional food chain who see engaging in networking as selfish. Still, failure to network has real consequences for workplace performance.

New research suggests that, for those who loathe happy-hour meetups and employee get-togethers, a change in attitude could be the ticket to a bigger network and more productive career.

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MARYAM KOUCHAKI

“Think about networking as an opportunity rather than a burden. That’s the biggest hurdle you need to overcome.”

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In an extensive research, it was found that the more promotion-focused respondents were, the less impure they felt about networking; the more prevention-focused they were, the more they experienced that “ick” factor.

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  • Researchers examined how encouraging a promotion or prevention focus might influence people’s responses to networking. 
  • They looked at two different kinds of networking: spontaneous, unintentional networking and intentional, concerted glad-handing.

Results of various related studies showed that promotion focus results in fewer feelings of impurity, but a prevention focus has you reaching for a hand sanitizer.

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Further statistical analysis confirmed that it was the greater feelings of impurity that led people in the prevention group to network less than people in the promotion group. In other words, if you can shake off the dirty feeling, you’re more likely to shake new hands.

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  • Research offers a simple way to help reluctant networkers overcome their discomfort.
  • The more you view networking through that promotion-focused lens, the easier it will feel, and the more likely you’ll be to actually do it.
  • Remind yourself that networking isn’t just selfish.
  • By expanding your own professional network, you may be able to help employees or colleagues find their next opportunities.

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