Let’s face it! Summer is a slower time of the year for networking and September is not much better as people start getting settled back into work after their vacation. The holidays and associated parties and events that happen in December also impact our ability to network.
That means that you have to cover a lot of ground in October and November to make sure you are maximizing your efforts in such a short period. I know that sounds like pressure and to some degree it is. Networking is work, but it is necessary to work if you want to succeed in your career or as an entrepreneur. It does not have to be drudgery, but you still need to understand that it requires a substantial amount of effort.
If it makes it any easier, the number one factor for career success according to a study in Forbes was your network, ideally an open network. So if that is the number one factor for success then shouldn’t our attitude be more about networking serving our goals and objectives rather than a necessary evil through which we have to suffer? Of course, it should.
Your attitude is going to be obvious to people so make sure you are genuine in your efforts and don’t make it always about you. Remind yourself to help others wherever possible rather than always looking for where others can help you. If you always have the “what’s in it for me” kind of mindset, then that’s what you will come to be known for, and others will begin shying away from you. How do you establish and grow an open network if fewer and fewer people want to interact with you?
Many people network when they need something or are seeking a particular objective. Once that need has been met, or their objective has been achieved they often slow down their networking or stop altogether. The key is never to do that. You should be networking even when you do not have an immediate objective. Your efforts would still be helping you grow your open network, and you would also be in a position to help others. Maybe one day those same people will be able to help you. Call it networking Karma.
If you only network when you need something, then people will come to realize that whenever they hear from you that is likely only because you want something rather than you wanting to know how they are doing and/or how you can help them. Do you want to be known as someone who only calls with an ask? Probably not.
Daniel Pink wrote the book, To Sell Is Human. Whether we are selling ourselves, our product, our service, or our company, we are selling. Even when we network, we are selling to some degree, and that’s okay. We mustn’t get hung up on the thought that somehow we are somehow doing something smarmy when we are networking and conveying our unique value propositions.
Networking or “being on” all the time can be tiring. It is work and work is tiring. However, if we remind ourselves about why we are doing it and the possible outcomes then perhaps we can summon the energy and the stamina to keep at it. If we don’t do it, nobody else will.