Myths about networking: 5 common misconceptions about connecting with business partners
Networking is a delicate art that requires finesse. Once you learn how to do it, building your network of contacts is actually fun and exciting. But just like any business venture, networking has been obscured by myths and superstitions. It's important to move past these misconceptions so you can really get in the swing of networking. Only then will it start getting easier to make contacts.
We put together a list of 5 of the most prominent and toxic stigmas about networking that keep people worrying instead of making the most of their careers.
1. Networking is an innate talent.
The first thing on our list is the first thought that comes into most people's heads: "I can't do it." "Networking is an innate talent: some people have it, and some don't." This is just plain false. Networking is a skill that you can be progressively get better at to achieve your goals. Anyone can learn how to do it if they practice methodically every day. Of course, the theory that some people are extraverts with good communication skills from the get-go is partially true. But introversion isn't a condemnation. Experts have confirmed that, more often than not, introverts have a better understanding of networking and are adept at it. Remember: everything is difficult when you first try it. But then every new contact you make will get easier and easier. As for the best way to train yourself and get ready to network, see our previous post about it on our blog.
Experts have confirmed that, more often than not, introverts have a better understanding of networking and are adept at it.
2. Networking = selling yourself
A typical rookie mistake is starting off by selling yourself or your product when you first meet someone. That's not how networking works. Of course, some might use a first meeting to expand their client base, but that's a toxic behavior. The foundation for making connections is using a win-win strategy, when two people will each benefit. To build relationships and create strong contacts over a long period, try to be useful, but don't try to sell yourself. Pushy salespeople are always a nuisance. Networking requires active effort and making yourself useful to your partner.
You shouldn't be looking for contacts in order to solve your own problems. No one else is interested in your problems.
3. Networking is using people.
This idea stems from the previous one. The win-win strategy is also at play here. You shouldn't be looking for contacts in order to solve your own problems. No one else is interested in your problems. Build your network without trying to find the best advantage for yourself while draining resources from your partner. And, even more importantly, don't sell your contacts to third parties if your own relationship with them doesn't bear fruit.
4. If they need me, they'll find me.
This is misconception number four. The idea that no one is irreplaceable still applies. Never forget: no pain, no gain. Even if you're an expert at what you do, the key to success is communication and making connections. Just think about how many skilled people are offering assistance and opportunities to collaborate to your partner at this very moment. Besides, a partnership based on "get the project, send the project" hasn't worked in a long time. Remember, you have much better chances of solving a problem over dinner or at a social event than through the internet.
To build relationships and create strong contacts over a long period, try to be useful, but don't try to sell yourself. Pushy salespeople are always a nuisance.
5. Networking doesn't work.
Our last myth. It often happens that someone tries two or three times to get to know someone and forge a connection, but to no avail. They get disillusioned, and their networking strategy gets shelved, or maybe fed right into the shredder. Even the most well-developed network of contacts doesn't yield instant results. It's absurd to expect that. A long-term outlook and friendship, a true partnership where communication and teamwork make everyone a winner: that's what networking is.
In actuality, there are many more misconceptions than these five. These are just the most common and insidious myths, the myths that make people throw up their hands, give up, and never try networking again.