If You Think Networking is Sleazy, You're Doing It Wrong

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Photo credit: Helena Lopes

“Ugh, I hate networking.”

“I’m so bad at it.”

“I just hate imposing on people.”

“I always feel sleazy when I try to network.”

If any of these statements apply to you, we have good news – you’re networking the wrong way. If networking feels sleazy to you, or if you haven’t even tried to network because you dread it so much, you have the wrong idea of what it should be.

Networking is one of those words that gets thrown around so much that it’s hard to know what it means anymore. Some people think it means inviting people to connect on LinkedIn. Some people think it means attending professional events and mingling in a room full of strangers. While both of those things can be useful for introducing yourself to the right people, neither one actually counts as networking.

Our definition of networking is this: having work-focused conversations with the intention to learn. That’s it – two people talking, listening to understand more about the other person’s work and career path. The key is to be curious about whomever you’re talking to.

Where people make the biggest mistake is thinking networking means talking to another person in the hopes of getting something from them, whether it’s a recommendation for a job or an introduction. To be clear, both of those things can happen and often do happen when you network, but they almost never happen if those are the goals you start with.

Simply put, transactional conversations – where one of you is only there to get something from the other – feel icky (unless you’re at the store or on the phone with technical support or customer service). So if you think networking is sleazy, it’s probably this kind of conversation you have in mind. This is the misguided reason people say, “I hate networking because I don’t like bothering people.” A genuinely curious conversation where both people are learning about the other is not a bother. Plus, if someone doesn’t want to talk to you, they won’t, which means you won’t be bothering them.

The truth is, a lot of people want to help you achieve your career goals! You may not know who they are yet, but if you hit it off with someone, you will be surprised at how generous they can be with their ideas and connections and how invested they can become in your success. But you can only hit it off if you show genuine interest in them and who they are rather than what they can do for you.

If you’d like to get a sense of how ArcVida can guide you to build relationships and have conversations that will lead to your next great job, sign up for our trial to experience the service for yourself.

Published on 7/23/2019