By Crystal Rockwood
Welcome to the largest club of anonymous members who also hate networking. Many have good excuses for not doing it. If any of these are yours, this article may help.
- It is selling, and I hate selling.
- I don’t know anyone.
- I never know what to say.
- I get trapped in boring conversations.
Business socializing is the unscripted zone where the playing field is equal. No résumés, just name tags. Generally, the person who connects best with others gets more opportunities. You don’t need to like networking to make it effective. I have come close to committing felonies before the iced tea arrived. Learning to navigate conversations toward neutral ground has helped even with the most odious of companions.
Instead of viewing networking as an indeterminate game of chance, opt to see it as staying in shape—a type of business development fitness, whether it is finding resources for your clients or coming across those who might recommend and/or retain you.
At its heart, networking is making others feel comfortable. Like proper etiquette that dictates treating others with consideration, respect, and sincerity, it leads to relational capital. With enough relational capital in the bank, you are the richest person in the room. There isn’t much people won’t do to help you or those you care about.
Originally published in Orange County Lawyer magazine