No Fear Networking
By: Pat Hedley
Networking strikes fear in the hearts of many. Reaching out to someone you don’t know for a job, career advice or an informational session can seem daunting. The thought of rejection or worse yet, a negative response, may paralyze your efforts. Yet, the benefits of networking are so far reaching, that it cannot be ignored. Networking correlates not just to finding opportunities and career success, but importantly to life-long learning and personal satisfaction. So, let’s find out what holds people back so you can conquer your fears and make sure you’re ready to reap the benefits
Worst thing #1 — Crickets
You’ve done research, you were either referred by someone or you’ve made a cold outreach, and you ask for a Zoom or in-person meeting. You wait. Nothing happens. While this may seem frustrating, there can be many reasons for a lack of response that have nothing to do with you. Sometimes the person you’ve reached out to is busy. They may have personal stresses or your email got lost in the spam folder. Perhaps your subject line needs some adjustment to be more eye catching. If you were referred by someone, the chance of no response is much lower than a cold call, but it can happen. If so, send another note in a week and see if you get a response. If all you get are crickets, move on. Nothing is lost, something is gained: you’ve practiced your writing skills.
Worst thing #2 — The Word ‘No’
The word ‘no’ can hold such weight and can seem so permanent. But at least it’s a response. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Importantly, a ‘no’ today may turn into a ‘yes’ at a later time. You can always ask: “Might there be a better time for a meeting?”, “May I reach out to you in another month (or later date)?” or “Would you recommend anyone else that might be willing to offer career advice or an information session?”. Polite persistence is a key to success. It is extremely rare for anyone to respond in a rude or off -putting fashion. If that occurs, they’re having a bad day. Maybe they just got fired, who knows? Don’t hold back from networking because you’re afraid of the word ‘no’. If you do, then you have told yourself ‘no’ before anyone else can say ‘yes’!
Worst thing #3 — A Meeting
While this is the best-case scenario, getting a meeting or a Zoom session may be the scariest thing for someone unpracticed in the art of networking and relationship building. As a result, many people don’t reach out, because they are afraid of possible success. The solution is to be ready for good things to happen because they will. People will want to meet you for several reasons:
- Most people got to where they are because others have helped them. They are looking for opportunities to pay it forward and help a young person at the start of their careers. They are excited to be helpful and will make you comfortable in the process.
- People are very willing to do favors for their friends. If you have been introduced by someone you know, you already have a receptive audience. They will be kind and helpful to you because of the mutual connection. They will be helpful to you to be helpful to their friend.
- You have a lot to offer, despite what you might believe. Young people are windows to the future and more experienced people want to meet you to learn from you and to see how you see the world. Your perspectives are valuable, so be confident that you have something to offer and others are willing to learn from you too.
Before you go to your meeting, you’ll have to prepare, research, and be ready to engage with your new contact. The best spirit going into a meeting is one of genuine curiosity and authenticity. Be yourself. Don’t seek to impress, instead seek to learn. Ask good questions and listen well. Find common interests or shared experiences so you can follow-up and build upon the first meeting to stay in touch. You never know when you can be helpful to them. Always remember an essential question, “Who else would you recommend that I meet?” as this will ensure you have additional people who can be supportive to you.
Be ready for the best thing to happen to you. Networking is an opportunity to meet new people and learn. Unexpected opportunities, continued learning, and real personal satisfaction are sure to follow.
Check out Pat’s Book, “Meet 100 People.” www.meet100people.com