NETWORK = YOUR NET WORTH
Happy Tuesday! I’m currently loving the longer days and warmer weather we’re having down here in NC! Today I’m going to talk about networking! Networking is one of my favorite topics to discuss, mainly because I used to HATE it. I hated attending events because I always felt like I had to network. I am an extrovert so I love to meet new people but the thought of networking made me feel overwhelmed. After years of work experience and attending conferences and events, I think I finally figured it out! Here are my tips for building and maintaining a network for people who hate networking!
(1) Join groups and attend events for interests outside of work: Confession: I HATE attending professional networking events. I’ve never liked it. I like my job but personally, I don’t feel like talking about it off the clock. I love to talk about my hobbies and passions more than I like to talk about my day job. I found that when I went to bar events early in my career, I barely talked or felt nervous because I didn’t know as much about the legal industry. I was fresh out of law school and didn’t know anything (and still don’t if I’m honest lol). Even though I’m more comfortable speaking about my job now, I just don’t feel like talking about it for 3 hours at an event. I realized that I love to talk more about business, blogging and creative pursuits. While I still consider my day job to be my career, I find that I talk and connect more with other professionals at events catered towards blogging or female entrepreneurship (aka my passions). I’ve even been able to connect with people in the legal field at these “non-legal” events. At a recent panel I spoke on, one woman mentioned that she was a new teacher and often struggled with networking and connecting with women in the same field. Another woman attending the event was an experienced educator and principal and connected and offered to mentor her. It was awesome watching them form a connection and it was so unexpected! This event was not for educators, it was an event for women discussing the importance of self-care!
(2) Use LinkedIn! I wrote a whole post about the importance of Linkedin. If you are one of my friends, you’ve heard me talk about it A LOT and I may have even created an account for you lol. In my post, I mentioned that Linkedin is not just for job hunting, it’s for connecting with people in your industry and beyond. For a lot of people, walking up to someone face to face might just be too intimidating and that’s ok. With Linkedin, you can take out the awkward face to face interaction. A few years ago, when I was trying to figure out how best to navigate having a day job and a blog, I stumbled on a profile of a woman in Chicago who was an attorney turned stylist working in fashion. I thought, “Wow! We are both attorneys who love fashion! We should connect!” I shot her a quick message and asked if I could talk to her about how she made the transition from law to fashion and we were able to chat. It was great to be able to connect with her. She gave me some gems that I still remember to this day.
(3) Shoot your shot: With everything in life, my motto is often just “Go for it! What’s the worse that could happen?” I feel like that’s the best approach to networking. You may feel scared to make a connection but honestly, what is the worse thing that could happen? They say no? They ignore you? Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith and approach people because you never know where it will lead!
(4) Make it mutual: Just like any relationship, your relationship with your network should be mutual. If you are just looking to network in order to get something, you will find it hard to build a network. People don’t want to feel used. Your goal should be to surround yourself with people with similar interests and experiences not just people you reach out to for a job, recommendation, etc. Also, think about how you can help others as well. I have a mentor who is an experienced attorney. He may not need me for help with his day-to-day work, but he often meets younger attorneys or pre-law students who need advice about where to go to law school, what city to live in, etc. Whenever he reaches out to me, I jump at the chance to help because he has been such a great mentor. You have to make time for those who make time for you. Pay it forward and watch your network grow!
(5) Check In with your Network: This is an important one! If you connect with someone at an event or online, make sure you follow up and check in with them periodically, even if it’s just to say hello! Send them holiday cards, congratulate them on career and personal milestones and share your successes with them. It’s important to maintain your relationships!
Do you like to network? What are some of your tips?