July 26, 2013

Stop Networking & Start Meeting People. ~ Michelle Welsch

I’m repelled by events where people pass out business cards like candy and scan the room to see who’s there.

Conversations seem deliberate, too forced and I find myself answering the same questions over and over with depleting enthusiasm. The term networking sends shivers up my spine. Even the root word—network—sounds anything but human, empathic or warm to me.

I’d like to redefine “networking” as “the practice of meeting people.”

As with any practice, you get better at it the more you do it. Some people have natural talent; others require a bit more time to perfect their art.

If you’ve experienced an interaction that has set your course in an entirely new direction, you know: meeting new people can change your life. But it requires focus and a genuine interest in developing real relationships.

If you need additional convincing, here are seven benefits of taking the time to ask questions, receive and engage in meaningful discussion:

1. You’ll learn something.

You never know what you’ll learn if you’re open to listen. New relationships can challenge your existing beliefs. By placing yourself in new situations, you’ll encounter different types of people who can expand your worldview. A variety of people means a variety of opinions and experiences for you to consider. This equals more knowledge for you, fresh lessons about the world and new perspectives on the way in which you exist in it.

2. You’ll build a personal cheer squad.

Most people want you to succeed. If you’re willing to put yourself out there, you may find yourself with a group of people who can hold you accountable as you reach your goals. Add new people into your cheering corner. Sometimes it’s easier to talk about challenges and struggles to those who are “less invested” in your world.

3. You’ll land a new job.

Let’s be honest: who you know plays a big role in where you go. If a position opens or a consultant is needed, the names that go into the hat are the ones that can be vouched for. If your sink is broken, would you rather hire a friend’s recommendation or a random name from a google search? The ability to establish personal relationships with those who can recommend your work is an invaluable resource.

4. You’ll discover what you’re made of.

It’s easy to be around the same people and talk about the same things. It takes guts to put yourself in new situations and start conversations with strangers. Test your mettle in new environments and unfamiliar topics. Challenge yourself to be uncomfortable by leaning into awkward moments.

5. You’ll get better at communicating.

Introductions force you to succinctly communicate who you are and what you do. Meeting strangers can help you polish your image and get clear about what you want and the things you enjoy. Not sure? Notice the types of people you’re drawn to. The conversations you appreciate can tell you a lot about yourself if you’re willing to look.

6. You might find The One.

No man is an island. Our needs change throughout our life span and different people can address different needs at different times. You never know when and where you might find companionship, someone to show you new places, tell you about the latest fundraiser or introduce you to a new passion.

7. You’ll refuel.

How do you feel at a really good party? It’s fun and you want more. If you haven’t found yourself in this kind of situation, look for it. When you practice meeting people, you’ll be inspired to continue to look for new ways to connect and discover new possibilities for yourself and your future.

“The more you practice, the more you can,

the more you want to, the more you enjoy it,

and the less it tires you.”

~ Robert A. Heinlein

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Asst. Editor: Kristina Peterson/Ed: Bryonie Wise

{Photo via: Pinterest}

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