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Pause and reflect on the stories that you tell yourself about networking. Do you tell yourself that networking is something you’ll do later when you have more time? That you don’t network because it’s inauthentic and fake? Or that you don’t have access to an influential network, so there’s no point in trying?
The (often unconscious) stories that we tell ourselves about networking have the power to prevent us from taking the steps that help us create meaningful careers.
One of the reasons that networking feels so awkward is because most of us prefer not to think of ourselves as building relationships for the sole purpose of gaining career advantages.
It’s perfectly reasonable to feel uncomfortable trying to build a relationship with someone because of what they can give you. But that feeling is built on the hidden assumption that you are only taking from the relationship and not giving to it.
Before entering networking situations, take some time to ask yourself what you would really like to learn about this person and their experiences.
Expressing genuine curiosity will allow the conversation to flow much more smoothly than if you’re faking it. This might mean doing a little bit of background research when preparing for a networking event.
As you shift your networking mindset and build your skillset, you’ll probably learn what situations and strategies work best with your unique quirks.
Treat the wins and the fails as valuable information in order to tailor your approach to networking to your strengths.
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