Are you sick and tired of going to networking lunches and coming back with a stack of business cards that you don’t know what to do with or maybe none at all (and nothing else either)?
That’s totally understandable because once a long time ago I used to do that myself. There are probably thousands of people who’ve felt the same (perhaps you).
If you wonder why “big” traditional face-to-face networking events often don’t work well here are three of those reasons.
Problem One. You Need It Before It Can Help
The worst time to build your network is when you’re out of a job? Why? As you may have heard it can take as long as six months (if not longer) before you land a job. If your network is made up of the right people it could be fast. It’s hit or miss.
It doesn’t mean you should avoid building up your network while job searching. It just means that you’re going to feel some time pressure (and choose your fights wisely).
Again, I have to repeat that it depends on who’s in your network already and what your goals are for networking.
Problem Two. Three Strikes and … You’re An Introvert?
“Most Americans, whether introverted or extroverted, have learned to look like extroverts.” - Laurie Helgoe, psychologist author of Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength.
Going to a big networking event might not be your thing. After all, you have to be at least somewhat outgoing to talk with people you know nothing about. If you’re a closet case “stick to yourself, loner type” introvert, big networking events can be like drowning in a pool of water.
Are their ways to network if you’re an introvert? Absolutely, you’ll get my take in an upcoming article.
Problem Three. A Square Peg for a Circle
Or the other way around — a circle peg for a square.
The jobs you get referred to through networking events might not fit you. You may not be good at it. It may be less than thrilling. Of course this all comes back to the big issue of knowing what you want and putting all your effort aiming for it.
Which is why…
It’s All About the Goals
If your goal at a face to face networking event is to just meet new people (which is exactly what it should be about) then that’s fine. Everyone there is just as awesome to know as the next guy and as Ivan Meisner and other networking pro’s would say, “Everyone’s important because you never know who they know.” (Warren Buffet, the Dalai Lama, Richard Branson?) Good books for you to read that I recommend would be Networking Like a Pro and The 29% Solution.
If your goal however is to find a job somewhere, somehow then a big two to three hour networking event may feel like a time drain. You’ll go looking for job leads (never expect to get job offers at a networking event) and you’ll have to spend time following up. And with Problem Three, if you’re spending time hunting down jobs that end up not being a great fit you’ll feel even worse.
That’s why you have to be clear about what you want, what you’re good at and who actually needs your skills. Then you go to the right event, build the right contacts and get the right job leads so you’re following up without wasting time. Hopefully you’ll work on a strategy to either beat your shyness or get around it (I’ll write about that later).
Check out my piece on How to Create a Mind Map of Desire to Guide Your Life so that you can get clear about what you’re actually looking for in a job (and hence contacts and networking events). And if you have any suggestions you want me to mention in my article on networking for introverts just contact me.
(Above Photo via ankbrunei.org)