Learn to Embrace Networking, It’s Important for Your Social Well-Being
By: Melanie Shires, PCC
I believe networking is essential for an entrepreneur’s social well-being, especially those who work in isolation out of home offices with little to no in-person, social interaction from one week to the next. If almost all of your day-to-day interaction is done over a laptop and cell phone, it is important for you to get out there and take advantage of networking with your peers.
Now I am aware that although some entrepreneurs have a natural passion for it, namely extroverts who love and thrive on social interaction, many really do not like networking. If you absolutely dread having to attend networking functions you aren’t alone. Many see them as mentally draining, exploitative, and inauthentic.
But in the competitive and isolated world of the entrepreneur, many whom work from home offices or out of coffee shops, networking is a necessity. A mountain of research shows that business networking leads to more opportunities, broader and deeper knowledge, improved capacity to innovate, faster business growth, and greater status and authority. Building and nurturing business relationships also increases an entrepreneur’s work satisfaction and contributes to their overall social wellness.
Here are four strategies to help you change your perspective on networking.
Focus on Learning
Look at networking as an opportunity for discovery and learning rather than an obligation to take part in for professional advancement. If you are an introvert, you can’t simply will yourself to be extroverted, but you can choose a motivational focus to bring to networking. Concentrate on how networking is going to help you boost the knowledge and skills that are needed in your area of expertise and the activity will begin to seem much more worthwhile.
Identify Common Interests
Think about how your interests and goals align with the people you meet networking and how you can help forge meaningful business relationships and partnerships. Doing research and being intentional can be extremely helpful in establishing collaborative and long-lasting connections. When your networking is driven by substantive, shared interests you’ve identified through serious research, it will feel more authentic and meaningful and is more likely to lead to relationships that have those qualities too.
Think What You Can Give
Even when you do not share an interest with someone, you can probably find something valuable to offer by thinking beyond the obvious. You may have unique insights or knowledge that could be useful to those with whom you’re networking. When you believe you have a lot to offer others, such as wise advice, mentorship, access, and resources, networking feels easier and less selfish. People also tend to appreciate those who understand their values and identities and make them feel included. When you think more about what you can give to others than what you can get from them, networking will seem less self-promotional and more selfless and therefore, more worthy of your time.
Find a Higher Purpose
Any activity becomes more attractive when it’s linked to a higher goal. So frame networking in those terms. Focus on the collective benefits of making connections (“support fellow entrepreneurs” and “help my clients”) rather than on personal ones (“support or help my business”).
If you are an entrepreneur ambivalent about networking, apply these strategies to help you overcome your aversion. By shifting to a discovery mindset, identifying and exploring shared interests, expanding your view of what you have to offer, and motivating yourself with a higher purpose, you’ll become more excited about and effective at building relationships that will bear fruit and social wellness.
Embracing networking and social interaction in your work routine is extremely important to achieve social wellness and overall well-being. I am passionate about and committed to helping entrepreneurs live their best life through the integration of states of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, The Eight Dimensions of Wellness. Follow me @bizcoachmel to get empowered with inspiration, tools, resources, tips, encouragement and support in every step of your wellness journey.