When I was writing The Connector’s Advantage, I sent out a few emails to people I knew for their input, and I got incredible insight. I moved forward and was able to continue making it better than the previous draft. Honestly, I don’t think I could have gotten it to be where it is now without the support and honest feedback I’ve collected along the way.
This may not seem like it, but I was using the power of my network.
I see this commonly with clients that want to expand their network because they feel like they could improve in that area when in reality they’re already communicating with a huge network, they just don’t realize it. We network frequently through inquiring, providing feedback, giving someone a positive referral, and even through planning meetings or events. All the while you’re connecting, and if you know me at all you know that’s what networking is!
Now, before you roll your eyes and say, “Michelle, I know I’m bad at networking. This is just regular communicating, it doesn’t count.” I want you to hear me out. You’re not the only one that feels this way!
Here’s a list of mental messages that may hold you back from networking.
- I have to network like everyone else. So much of why networking feels hard is because we have built in our minds that it can only be done in a certain way, but a good connection happens when it feels natural. Just because you don’t feel natural in some settings doesn’t make you bad at connecting.
- I am scared to follow up. If you really want to develop a working relationship with someone, don’t be afraid to follow up. Sending a light-touch communication that doesn’t require a response or sharing a quick insight on a project can be a low-risk way to stay in touch and show that you value their time. Don’t be afraid to follow up.
- I don’t bring any value. Underestimating your value will certainly hold you back. If you aren’t proud of the work you’ve done you’re selling yourself short. Think about something that you’re excited to be working on and share your enthusiasm about it. If you truly love marketing analytics, talk about that. When you show your passion and connect to what you’re good at, the energy is contagious!
- I don’t feel like it. Connecting happens with effort. You do actually have to show your interest and intent to connect or work with someone. Reach out with their best interests in mind as well as yours. Let your network evolve to and stay close to people that inspire and energize you.
So the next time you fall into the trap of thinking you’re not good at networking, here’s what you do – take a minute to figure out why you feel that way, name the negative messaging that’s making you think it, and write down one thing you can do to overcome that misconception and start connecting more. You can do this!