If real-time in-person networking makes your skin crawl, then try my Musicians’ Networking Solutions to change your mindset and change your world!
Let me level with you. I used to hate even the IDEA of networking. It brought to mind sleazy sales people pressing their business cards on you while pushing their products.
But I had it all wrong.
It took me WAY too long to understand that networking can actually be something completely different. That it can connect you to a much more positive way of being in the world. And because it took me too many years to figure this out, I’m hoping this saves you the trouble.
Let’s reframe networking
Real networking is simply expanding your social circle and making new friends through real-time face-to-face connections. It’s NOT about trying to get something from someone. It’s about about honest and real human connections.True networking isn’t about ME, ME, ME. It’s about creating WE: build your community. Click To Tweet
Effective networking requires being authentic and open—and being genuinely curious about other people’s viewpoints. It also demands being willing to talk about yourself and sharing, engaging in genuine human connections.
What’s required: Getting Outside Your Comfort Zone
For introverts like me, real-time networking takes stepping outside your comfort zone. Which can feel intimidating but is actually necessary for any kind of growth.
“What I know for sure is this: if you’re comfortable, you’re not fully alive. Everyone thinks the comfort zone is going to make life safe, but all it really does is make life small.”
— Barry Michels, psychologist and co-author of The Tools
Distinguish Between Real and Fake Networking
It’s easy to fool ourselves into thinking that the hours we lose to social media count as real networking that will advance our careers.
It’s time to stop fooling ourselves.
Author and marketing expert Seth Godin, in this classic response, tells the truth about social media:
“It’s worthless to have lots and lots of friends on Facebook because they’re not really your friends. They’re just people who didn’t want to offend you by pressing the ignore button.
And, if you’ve got 5000 people following you on twitter because you tell a dirty joke every couple hours that’s not particularly useful for your business either.
The internet is a giant cocktail party with all these people swarming and connecting as much as they can because they’re keeping score. ‘Who likes me today and who’s talking about me today?’
What matters are where are the real relationships.
Our real relationships happen through shared experience and the exchange of worthwhile ideas. These are meaningful connections with people you know and who know you. Not simply transacting a few bits of data.”
Seth goes on: ouch, there’s more.
“Networking is always important when it’s real. And it’s always a useless distraction when it’s fake.
What the internet has allowed is an enormous amount of fake networking to take place. And it’s so easy to be seduced by it because there’s a dashboard and a scoreboard and ‘look how popular I am!’
And it’s nonsense.
If you’re measuring it it’s like measuring hits to your website. It doesn’t translate. What translates is, Are there people who’d I’d go out of my way for and who’d go out of their way for me? That’s what you need to keep track of. The way you get there is by going out of your way for them. And by earning that privilege of one day having that connection be worthwhile.”
Real-time networking challenges our social skills and makes most of us nervous. If you’re insecure about how to strike up conversations and how to connect with people in person, know that these are skills you can learn. First we need to stop fooling ourselves and get outside our comfort zones. Then it just takes practice.
For more help with networking, see Is networking torture for you? so you can turn this around.
And if you’re curious about how coaching can help you advance your career, find details here.
Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well