Top Strategies to Fall in Love with Business Networking, Again? Part 2
We all know networking is a powerful business strategy, but why do so many of us avoid it? In a previous article, we discussed the importance of business and social networking opportunities and offered several reasons. While networking provides the ability to collaborate and gain knowledge, it can be overwhelming. In the final installment of this two-part series, we discuss the importance of managing your energy and embracing the networking journey.
How to stop networking from draining your energy?
We know how crucial networking is to business growth. But does it have to be exhausting and intimidating?
Networking can be draining, even for extroverts. If you’re an entrepreneur and an introvert like me, the thought of walking into a room and networking with strangers might fill you with dread and anxiety. While I understand that networking is a crucial business strategy you shouldn’t avoid, I still try to avoid it as much as possible. However, I recognize that I must change my mindset and, more importantly, my internal dialogue. I can’t ignore networking, but I can consider the best way for me to increase my social interactions while managing my energy simultaneously.
Here are a few practical tips for all of us to consider:
● Choosing quality over quantity
You’ve probably heard the statement, “the more you network, the better.” But there’s no benefit in networking when you’re uncomfortable and exhausted. You will lack enthusiasm and presence and fail to truly connect with other business professionals. Since a positive first impression requires large amounts of energy, it’s advisable only to network for a few hours every week. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Choose quality networking events and opportunities that have solid long-term value. You have to be strategic in how you network, which means being selective and focusing on the networking opportunities that you are interested in and will enjoy.
● Taking microbreaks to reenergize
Quick ten-minute breaks can sometimes help replenish energy resources and restore focus. A reenergizing one-minute break can be just as effective! We highly recommend you take such microbreaks to mentally detach from the networking process. You can use the break to read an engaging article, watch a funny video, or use a social networking app. The idea is to not immerse yourself in networking for extended periods of time. Walking outside for a break and distancing yourself from the crowd will help you reenergize and be more energetic and focused when you return.
● Network along with a co-worker
Find a “Paddle Buddy” - bring a friend or your favorite co-worker with you next time you go to networking events. Having a networking partner can help reduce exhaustion and burnout. By working as a networking team, you will spend less energy, meet more people, and create more opportunities.
Top strategies to help people start enjoying networking!
You know how powerful business networking can be. So, what should one do to start loving the process of social networking and reap the benefits we mentioned above? Let’s find out.
1. Focus on learning and getting better.
You may need a mindset shift if you want to enjoy business networking. Business growth doesn’t entirely depend on networking. But without effective social networking, achieving exceptional results will be next to impossible.
You will have to pull yourself out of the ‘prevention’ mindset and push towards a ‘promotion’ one. While the former makes people see networking as an obligation, the latter enables you to attach networking to growth, advancement, and accomplishments.
When you focus on learning and getting better, networking will stop looking inauthentic, and it will become easier to engage in the process. A simple change in motivational focus can produce massive business networking success.
2. Find something valuable to offer.
Give before you receive. We highly recommend you find something valuable to offer someone else in every social networking event. This simple gesture will help develop an expression of gratitude, and it will become easier for the people you meet to connect with you.
However, you will have to think broadly about what you can share. Come up with unique insights, knowledge, industry experience, or events and share them with whom you’re networking. It’s a simple strategy to make networking feel less self-promotional and selfless.
3. Achieve a more authentic purpose.
What is your primary purpose for conducting or participating in a business networking event? Your purpose can largely determine your motivation. Business professionals that focus on the collective benefits of networking perform better and find networking more authentic than professionals that focus on personal benefits.
Link all your social networking activities to a higher goal and purpose. Such a change in perspective is good for your company as it gives employees a meaningful ‘WHY’ to network. This will eventually help businesses convert more customers and generate more revenue.
4. Always begin with common interests.
Remember, you’re not just trying to meet potential customers, you are meeting people with different personalities, goals, and interests. As business professionals, we tend to forget that individuals we meet have their own ambitions.
Forging a meaningful working relationship doesn’t just require pointing out the obvious business advantages. You have to think about the interests and goals of the people you meet and work to create better, collaborative, and long-lasting connections. Do your due diligence and figure out what the person you are meeting likes and dislikes. Always begin the conversation with shared interests. Such information can make business networking look authentic, palatable, and meaningful.
You have to stop looking at people in social settings as potential customers! Instead, you need to get to know them, be genuinely curious about what they do, and focus on finding a way to offer them some valuable piece of information that is relatable to their business. Think of networking like a bank account. “You have to make deposits and shore up social capital before making a withdrawal.” Networking isn’t about you and what you can get out of people. It’s about what you can offer them without any strings attached.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. If you’d like to read more articles on various topics, check out our “Inside Scoop” website series and — Don’t forget to share this post!
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Dr. Cristina Rosario DiPietropolo is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Leader Essentials Group, an executive consulting firm specialized in collaborating, developing, and executing strategies with their clients. Extensive experience across multiple industries and highly skilled in the areas of strategic planning, organizational behavior, human resource management, change management, leadership, and digital marketing. Over ten years of teaching experience as a Visiting Professor of Management, with a special focus on leadership in entrepreneurship, organizational behavior, and international management.
_________________________________________________________________________  Valencia, J. (2018). How to Keep Networking from Draining You. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved June 5, 2022, from https://hbr.org/2018/05/how-to-keep-networking-from-draining-you  LearnVest(2014). 8 Secrets from Power Networking Pros. Forbes. Retrieved June 8, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2014/07/23/secrets-from-power-networking-pros/?sh=65fff40e4e5a