Networking: The solution to moving past the moral discomfort - Deepstash

Networking: The solution to moving past the moral discomfort

Turn the tables on your discomfort. Think of networking as an opportunity to give rather than to receive. Being a giver is the best strategy for building a valuable network that is saturated with reciprocity.

Even if you doubt you have something valuable to offer, you probably have more to offer than you realise.

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Networking can feel awkward

Many people avoid networking because it feels awkward and unnatural. Research shows that networking to gain career benefits can lead to feelings of dirtiness.

But cultivating an effective network offers substantial professional and personal benefits, such as finding new jobs, obtaining promotions and receiving pay raises. A strong network is also associated with innovation, creativity, health and happiness.

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  • Ask questions. Instead of thinking of selling yourself, focus on the other person. Invite someone to share about themselves by asking open-ended questions.
  • Listen well. Give all your attention to your conversations, listen without interruption, and follow up with open and thoughtful questions.
  • Share experiences and perspectives. Fresh eyes or different perceptions are invaluable.
  • Send a thoughtful follow-up with an article, notice of an event, etc, that they might appreciate.

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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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Building a strong network is one thing, and keeping it strong is another.

But it’s not that difficult to maintain your relationships:  sending a few email updates per year that include major achievements about your professional and personal life to the people that are closest to you can be a game changer.

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Rewrite your networking narrative

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. 

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