Job seekers tell me all the time: The most difficult, terrifying element to a job search?
To many, especially if you're an introverted type of character(completely foreign concept to me), networking is a big, hairy, scary, ugly word. A word that will certainly require you to do nearly impossible things like:
- Contact strangers
- Talk to people you barely know
- Ask for advice, input or (gasp!) favors
- Potentially look dumb or awkward or silly
Well, yeah. That's because we are humans and, especially in our current culture, we are conditioned to believe that you simply can't look dumb, awkward or silly, especially in the eyes of a stranger
(Stranger danger! Stranger danger!)
The problem with this safe, stranger-avoiding, don't-look-stupid-at-any-cost type of living, however...?
And sets you up for continued failure (or a life of low-risk, status quo at the very least).
Honestly? So much of our fear of what others will do, say or think if we x, y, or z?
So if this is you? If you are terrified to get your ass out there and do some real networking?
Start small, and in your personal life. Do little things that will demonstrate (to YOU) that you truly have it in you to connect with people. I'm certain that you will quickly see that there really are a ton of benefits that go along with human interaction.
When you stop worrying so damned much about what your neighbors, friends or dude in the really nice suit at Starbucks will think of you if you DARE to be yourself or (gasp!) engage them with eye contact and/or actual conversation, you'll find that NETWORKING (because this is what you're doing) doesn't hurt, and usually works out quite nicely
"Fortune favors the bold." -- Virgil
- Make eye contact when you pass someone on your walk.
- Say yes to your kid when they ask you to run through the sprinkler, in the front yard. Chat with the neighbors as they pass by chuckling.
- Tell the woman at the dry cleaners how cool you think her earrings are.
- Laugh as loud as you want at the joke your friend told you, in the middle of a crowded restaurant, at noon.
- Introduce yourself to a few people you've never met at your colleague's weekend barbecue.
- Ask the guy flying a kite at the park how he makes it go so high in the air
- Send a quick note to someone you haven't talked to in years, just to say hey how's it going? (Facebook makes this one a no-brainer).
- Work on that cross-stitch project in public, even if you think someone may think you're dorky.
- Find a karaoke night somewhere. And sing something.
The point here? The more you open yourself up to interaction, and condition yourself to take litle risks and to start conversation? The less scary it all becomes. And the less scary it all becomes, the more bold and genuine you shall become.
Both in your job search networking, and in that whole thing called your life.