Cultivating connection should be your default response this year. We touched on this last week and received a ton of feedback as we launched our newsletter. The benefits of connecting to our communities (whether in-person or virtual) are crucial to our well-being and stretch into all aspects of our personal and professional lives. We are digging deeper into rewiring our perspective on networking.
Firing up the Google Machine reminds us that networking clearly calls out the exchange of information and ideas among individuals with a common profession or special interest. Networking occurs both formally and informally on the social horizon. You won’t be hard-pressed to find more people avoiding networking rather than seeking out networking opportunities. Why? Often people view networking as imposing, deceptive, and dirty.
We are not going to undo the damage already done from bad networking experiences. Queue the therapists. However, The Resume Rescue is keen to provide our community with networking tips to ensure every interaction is natural and not forced. Let’s take what we know, what we enjoy, and create a mindset of connection.
First, immediately stop thinking of networking in terms of an exchange. This harps back to our biggest gripe with networking and the dirty connotation. An exchange implies that Person A is providing something to Person B and vice versa. “You Scratch My Back and I’ll Scratch Yours”. Not anymore, buster! We are not exchanging anything! Instead, we are viewing any encounter as an OPPORTUNITY TO SHARE.
Reframed as an opportunity, it gives you the power on how/when/where/why you provide tangible support or guidance to another. It eliminates the expectation that you will be receiving something in return. It takes away the pressure. Suddenly networking events do not seem so intimidating and scary. Networking events are now opportunity events.
Second, cultivating connection allows you to create an experience. It puts you in the driver’s seat and allows you to set expectations on how you will treat others and how you expect to be treated in return. It puts you in a position of power. Building a connection with others embraces the uncertainty and reframes it in such a way that makes it seem less daunting. The initial building blocks may be very small, but the path is forming.
Take this example – you are going to a job fair. You have countless opportunities to directly connect with recruiters, company delegates or representatives, or fellow job seekers. As you hand out your custom-crafted Resume Rescue resume and talk about your experiences, you also take the opportunity to share feedback on your job-seeking journey. You have the opportunity to offer another job seeker a positive word of encouragement. You have the chance to solve a problem for current employers seeking thoughtful employees such as yourself. You may not walk out with a job offer in hand, but you do walk out with successful interactions on your terms.
On the other end of the spectrum perhaps you are on the receiving end of people always seeking you out for networking. Your time is limited and you are struggling to balance work, home, family, personal obligations, etc. Instead of viewing that outreach negatively because you are the only one “exchanging” in that interaction, view it as an opportunity to share some of your collective experiences and lessons learned. Guard your time carefully. Set clear time limits and ask the other party to send you an agenda. Frame the interaction as you are excited to use this opportunity to share your knowledge. It is up to the recipient to put your guidance into action, but you have provided them the opportunity to learn from your connection.
Finally, continue to find ways every day to help others. This is our favorite way to build connections at The Resume Rescue. We view our interactions as the ability to connect people to opportunities in all spheres of life. We listen to the needs of others and deploy our resources to help those in our community. We embrace curiosity and find joy in helping bridge gaps. We are here to help and would love to hear from you. Tell us how you plan on cultivating connections this year.