Your Network is Your Net Worth: The Power of Connection

March 15, 2024
 min read
Group of people networking around a table

If you are anything like me, you hate the word networking. Just the thought of standing in a room full of people, awkwardly mingling, makes you break out into a cold sweat. Yet the importance of networking is undeniable. It’s vital for finding a job. Research shows that 70% of jobs are never published publicly and according to Forbes, 80% of all jobs are filled through networking. It continues to be important even after you’ve found a job as it has a dramatic effect on income. It’s also how I’ve got all of my jobs.

In the summer of 2019, desperately broke but wanting to stay outside all summer before heading off to university, I decided to start a gardening business. I started with just one customer, who was a childhood friend of my grandmother. She ended up referring me to 20 other people, who all brought their own referrals, leaving me with a booming business and a busy summer in the sun. At university, my lecturers recommended me for positions as a Student Mentor and Events Ambassador, which led to many other jobs with the Unitemps team. I was recommended for my first graduate job by my old manager from my Events Ambassador job. Then I got a freelance job, and later my current full-time role, with Mindless Academy because I reached out to them after I graduated, asking if I could complete a digital marketing plan for them.

So how can you overcome your fear of networking?

  1. Shift Your Mindset: Instead of viewing networking as a daunting task, reframe it as an opportunity for learning and growth. Focus on the potential benefits, such as expanding your professional circle, gaining insights from others, and discovering new opportunities.

  1. Set Realistic Goals: Start small by setting achievable networking goals. For example, aim to introduce yourself to at least three new people at an event or initiate a conversation with someone you admire. Celebrate each success, no matter how small, to build confidence gradually.

  1. Prepare and Practice: Prepare an elevator pitch or a few conversation starters in advance. This can help alleviate anxiety and provide a sense of direction during networking events. Practice introducing yourself and engaging in small talk with friends or family members to build confidence.

  1. Focus on Listening: Shift the focus away from yourself by actively listening to others. People appreciate being heard, and genuine listening can foster meaningful connections. Ask open-ended questions to show interest and encourage conversation.

  1. Find Common Ground: Look for common interests or experiences to connect with others. Shared experiences can break the ice and make networking feel more natural. Whether it's a shared industry, hobby, or mutual acquaintance, finding common ground can ease social interactions.

  1. Attend Networking Events Regularly: The more you expose yourself to networking opportunities, the more comfortable you will become. Attend industry conferences, seminars, workshops, or local meetups regularly to practice your networking skills in different settings.

  1. Utilise Online Platforms: Networking doesn't have to be limited to face-to-face interactions. Utilise online platforms such as LinkedIn to connect with professionals in your field, join industry groups, and participate in online discussions. Online networking can be less intimidating and serve as a stepping stone to offline interactions.

  1. Seek Support: Don't be afraid to seek support from mentors, colleagues, or friends who are experienced networkers. They can offer valuable advice, share their own networking experiences, and provide encouragement along the way.

  1. Focus on Quality Over Quantity: Remember that networking isn't just about collecting business cards or LinkedIn connections. Focus on building meaningful relationships based on mutual respect and trust. Quality connections are more valuable in the long run than a large network of superficial contacts.

  1. Celebrate Your Progress: Finally, acknowledge and celebrate your progress in overcoming your fear of networking. Each interaction, no matter how small, is a step forward in expanding your professional network and advancing your career.

By implementing these strategies and gradually stepping out of your comfort zone, you can overcome your fear of networking and unlock new opportunities for personal and professional growth. With persistence and practice, networking can become as natural to you as breathing.

Best of luck with your networking journey and let us know how you get on by tagging Mindless Academy in your LinkedIn posts!

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