5 Ways to Shift Your 'Networking Is the Worst' Mindset
March 28, 2018
It’s spring in the Northern Hemisphere—that time of year when people start to tidy up every corner of their lives. The fresh air and sunshine have people itching to refresh, well, pretty much everything, from their homes to their mental habits and beyond.
But did you know your networking game can get a refresh, too?
The most powerful career tool is the ability to build strong relationships—but networking has a sneaky way of feeling like an inauthentic chore.
Here, five mindset refreshers that will get you excited for IRL time with that person you've stalked on LinkedIn.
5 Dumpable Mindsets and the Refreshes You Need
1. Dump It: How can this relationship serve me?
Refresh: How can I build this person up and add value to their world?
Networking can feel like an "me, me, me" game. And, yes, we often have an end goal when we're meeting with someone new. But instead of focusing on what resources you can suck out of your new pal, focus on ways you can invest in them. If they’re working on a project and you can help them succeed in any way, do it. Just because. Know someone they just have to meet? Make the introduction!
Going the extra mile and showing that you’re not just there for your own benefit will make you stand out a mile above everyone else clamoring for their attention.
2. Dump It: Small talk and chitchat are pointless.
Refresh: Small talk is the key to diving deeper.
Small talk is anything but pointless.
Participating in conversation comes with structure. These serve as a guide, allowing members to participate and feel comfortable on common ground.
Small talk is the first part of that structure—it helps conversationalists begin at the same place and speed. As the conversation progresses, both can go deeper together, naturally. This honors the human need to get comfortable with someone new before sharing more personal things.
Small talk isn’t stupid, it’s respectful.
3. Dump It: I always say dumb things, so making friends is stressful.
Refresh: It’s OK to be real around me, because I’m not perfect either.
Let’s get one thing straight: even the coolest people say stupid stuff. But what separates the cool kids from the masses? They know how to use it to their advantage.
Goof ups are actually a connection goldmine, and here’s why. People are attracted to genuineness, and nothing screams “not faking it” like messing up.
People are attracted to genuineness, and nothing screams “not faking it” like messing up.
Think about it. Being around someone who’s perfect all the time is mega stressful, not to mention super annoying. But by embracing your humanness, you show others that you’re relaxed and not an intimidating robot. You create a welcoming space to relax and be real, and THAT, my friend, is a people magnet.
4. Dump It: I can only talk about stuff I know about, otherwise I’m screwed in conversation.
Refresh: A foreign topic is a great connection-builder.
A lot people freak out when someone brings up a topic they know nothing about. “How on earth am I supposed to join the conversation now?” If that’s you, take a deep breath.
I absolutely LOVE it when someone brings up something I know nothing about. Crazy? Nah, it’s actually a secret weapon for success.
When someone knows more than you, it creates an opportunity for you to ask questions, learn more, and listen. Not only do you get to help fuel the conversation, but you also build the other person up by making them feel knowledgeable. Bonus? It greatly reduces social anxiety because you get to talk less.
5. Dump It: Meeting new people in person is stressful. Online is good enough.
Refresh: Building relationships in person gives you a massive advantage.
We live in a technology-obsessed world. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a super fan as much as the next gal, but when it comes to building strong, career-changing relationships, face-to-face is the all-time champ.
Hiding behind a screen all the time isn’t gonna cut it. Not only is IRL time more personal, it also allows you to build camaraderie faster. When you’re hanging out with someone in person, you need less time to dive deep. People see your face, hear your voice, and get to know you in real time, in real life, in the real, fresh air. (Are you sensing a theme yet?)
DMs are great, email rocks, and LinkedIn is cool, but the original facetime? That’s some heavenly magic right there.
Make the Shift
We all have mindsets that aren’t serving us well, so there’s zero judgement here, friend! The goal is to simply toss them out and welcome in a fresh new set that will help you thrive.
So, while everyone else is obsessed with cleaning their closets, why don’t you and I take our connection game to pro-status? Your career and personal life will thank you.
Read next: 4 Ways to Network That You'll Actually Enjoy