I’ve come to realize that there are a lot of myths or misconception surrounding meeting new people and networking. Truth be told, I used to have misconceptions and fears about networking until I tried it out myself and realized that it didn’t have to be this super formal and uncomfortable thing.
Today, I address the most popular myths and misconceptions around networking I’ve heard and hopefully help a few people out there have a mindset shift.
1. It’s not necessary
I may be biased but I truly believe that learning to networking effectively is one of the most important things you can do for yourself whether you’re a student, job seeker, employee or entrepreneur.
As a student, I was able to gain access to jobs and opportunities because of people I knew. Don’t get me wrong, I was qualified for the jobs I got but I wouldn’t have know about them if I didn’t know certain people. For example, I got offered my dream job when I interned at Fashion Week and got into a conversation with a designer; she asked me to send in my CV, called me in for an interview a few days after and offered me the job on the spot.
I also have a friend who got invited to volunteer at a soup kitchen back in 2008 and became great friend with the organizer. A few years down the line, she wanted to assist with one of his projects and he introduced her to someone that shared their vision and boom! It was this awesome woman/industry leader she’s always wanted to connect with.
As an entrepreneur, you are responsible for creating awareness for your brand and bringing in clients, one of the best ways to do that is through networking effectively. Networking helps people get to know you and like you; at the end of the day, it’s the people that have the money.
Wherever you are in life, if you’re able to meet people and connect with them in a way that makes them fall in love with you, you my friend, will not want for clients, referrals, and opportunities.
2. You need to be a people person
I cannot count how many times I’ve heard statements like these:
‘Networking is not for me because I don’t talk a lot’
‘I don’t think I can network because I’m not a people person’
‘I don’t really interact well with people’
‘I’m not good at making friends’
I understand how you can think that not being a people person will make you terrible at networking but I have found that people that talk less; the shy or introverted are usually the best at networking. All you really need is a desire to meet new people, a desire for connection and the right tools. I wrote a step-by-step tutorial to have you starting conversations with strangers comfortably and easily in the next 30 days:
The reason I focus on introverts and shy people is because I have been both and know first hand how difficult it was to put myself out there which is why I’m here to teach you the easiest ways to network, and it’s not just me, my clients have had some pretty amazing results, see what they have to say here. If we can do it, you can do it too.
3. You need to go out a lot
Sorry guys, I had to lol at this one.
This used to be me. I used to think that networking meant getting dressed for super formal fancy events and feeling super awkward and alone when you got there.
Now I know that networking doesn’t only happen at formal events. There’s an opportunity to network with someone new every day.
Yes, I used to go for a lot of events after I made friends in my new city and yes I occasionally enjoy event hopping and yes, I organize events but most days, I’ll rather curl up on my couch and catch up on my favorite series #introvertproblems
Networking doesn’t just happen at events; you meet people every day, everywhere. You meet people at the grocery store, you have neighbors, you have colleagues, you meet people at the barber's shop or hair salon, you meet people in class, you meet people on the bus, at the coffee shop, online...people are everywhere; you just have to open your eyes.
We live in a super busy world and you don’t have to go for a ton of events to meet people. Pick one or two strategic events to attend every quarter then focus on getting to know the people you see every day a little bit more.
If you’re wondering what I mean by strategic events, you should read the article below:
4. I don’t have a product or service yet
If you are in the initial phase of your business where you’re trying to figure out what business idea to run with that, my friend, is when you should be networking and talking to people a lot.
Here’s why, you do not want to put in all the work and effort and come out with a product or service no one wants. One of the best ways to know what people want is to go out there (offline and online) and talk to them, find out what they are struggling with and what their challenges are and if you can help them, create a product or service to do just that.
5. People don’t like strangers talking to them
I think this misconception comes from our childhood, having our parents tell us not to talk to strangers. Honestly, in all my years of talking to strangers, 99% of them have been nice and friendly people who respond warmly.
I find that most times, everyone is just waiting for everyone else to start the conversation.
If you struggle with starting conversations with strangers, click the link below to access a tutorial that will have you starting a conversation with anyone easily
6. Making friends is easy but keeping friends is difficult
A lot of people feel that more friends equal more problems; more drama, more birthday parties, and weddings to attend. Some people have no issue making friends but have a problem with keeping in touch and keeping the relationship going.
Yes, keeping in touch with your network requires effort but it's not as difficult as you think. With my network, I’ve learn to leverage my time, manage expectations and focus on the people that add value
I co-host a monthly entrepreneurship hangout and invite most of my friends that are entrepreneurs, this way we get to see each other and add value to each other’s lives. Can you organize events, get-togethers or invite your friends to events? That way, you get to kill 5-10 birds with one stone and have a great time doing it.
It’s okay to take breaks from people; honestly, you don’t constantly need to be in contact with everyone in your network. Sometimes, you need time to focus on your own projects. However, it’s important to let people understand that you’ll be taking time out to work on a new project so they don’t feel neglected.
If you would like to know what relationships to focus on, read this article:
7. People talk to you only when you’re successful
That’s not true. Nobody knows everything; I know something that you don’t know and you know something that I don’t know.
People are in different phases of their lives and careers, people are constantly looking for people to collaborate and work with.
Do you only talk to people that are successful?
If you answered ‘No’ then you realize that this is definitely a misconception.
If you answered ‘yes’, then you my friend have to tweak that and become more open to less successful people if not, you’ll get what you put out, it’s the law of attraction. Besides, that attitude is not healthy or helpful; you will lose a lot of opportunities acting that way because most times, the best way to get to successful people is through the people around them which include secretaries, assistants, receptionists, and drivers.
However, a lot of people still judge books by their covers so when going for high profile events, dress up; be comfortable but look good so you don’t feel out of place.
Don’t wait for others to approach you and then start to think no one approached you because they didn’t think you were important. People just generally wait for the other person to approach them.
8. Extroverts are better networkers
Lol, I had to laugh at this one too, mostly because I used to think the same way.
Being the life of the party doesn’t mean you’re great at networking. Two of the keys to networking effectively are listening and being genuinely interested in other people. From my observation, those two things hardly ever happen with those loud, fun people at parties. Most of them are really not listening to others; they are too busy keeping the party going by sharing amazing stories.
Introverted and shy people are actually really good at networking once they get they hang of it because it's already in their personality and nature to listen. It's easier for them.
9. You need to be prim and proper
A client once mentioned that she was worried she couldn’t network effectively because she constantly added ‘like’ to her sentences. Of course, it get’s irritating if it’s constant but if you are listening more than you’re talking and you’re genuinely interested in the other person, they’ll hardly notice.
It’s the same with speeches and presentations, I’ve listened to a woman who could hardly speak English and I was blown away by her speech because it carried so much truth and content.
Remember how I mentioned (in #3) that networking doesn’t have to be this super formal thing? You meet people every day, everywhere, online and offline.
10. More is better
A lot of people feel like attending more events help you build your network faster or giving out more business cards equals better networking.
Some people also feel like you need to meet people multiple times to truly connect with them.
With networking, more isn’t always better. Sometimes, less is more.
More is better if you’re practicing; the more you practice the better you get. However, if you have a strategy for events, you could go to one or two events a year and end up better off than someone who goes for an event every month, truly.
Don’t just walk around rooms giving out business cards and collecting business cards, because more business cards do not equal more connections, rather, seek to connect with people, be genuinely interested in them and you’ll connect the first time you meet them.
There you have it,folks.
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