There are so many misconceptions that people have about networking. We would try to address some of them in this 2-part series.
1. Networking is manipulative.
Well, I agree with you that some people set out to network because they believe that they can manipulate their ways to success. The reality is that you cannot be parasitic or exploit others and succeed as a networker. Those who try it never build or manage long-term relationships. The way to avoid being manipulative if that is your concern is to deliberately seek ways and opportunities to give more than you receive. What you give doesn’t have to me financial every time. Give of your time, give of your intellect, give of your resources and emotion.
2. I am naturally an introvert or I don’t have the gift of gab.
Let me say first of all that saying you are naturally an introvert can’t be true. When you say you are naturally something what it means is that it came with you from birth, in other words, there is something in your gene, your blood group or your cell that has made you who you are. But that is not true. There is nothing in your genotype, blood group or cell that has predisposed you to being an introvert. The reality however is that 80% of the excellent networkers that I know were neither born with excellent communications skills nor with rapport building skills. These are learnable skills. In other words, you can overcome your introversion. You can improve your communication skills relative to networking and you can improve your rapport building skills. Just keep listening. We will take you through a step-by-step process and practical guide on how achieve this.
3. Networking is for those looking jobs or business.
I am comfortable where I am. Well, I thank God for your life. I am happy for you. But you know what? I have seen and heard of so many people who thought they had job security loose their jobs. I have seen people who believed their businesses would remain successful who are broke today. More importantly though is the fact that networking is not about getting a job or growing your business. Of course, these are likely outcomes of networking, but they are not the ultimate goal. Having said that, your network today can save your life tomorrow or be relevant to your kids and community in the future. I think it is selfish to say that because you are comfortable today, you don’t need a network. How about your community, how about your kids and relatives? How about people out there who also need you to inspire them, motivate them and support them?
4. Networking is a waste of time.
I have heard people say “ I’d rather use my time for better things than hang around with people I don’t know or care about”. You know why networking is a waste of time for some people? It is because they have no networking plan. Some also have no networking goals? They work hard to network, but they hardly work. The problem is not with networking. The problem is with them.
5. Networking is about exchanging business cards and contact details.
Once I give and collect their contact details, they are in my network” is the fifth misconception about networking. No sir! Networking has stages and processes. It starts with meeting people, introducing yourselves, exchange business cards and contact details, keeping in touch, developing the contact, managing the relationship, selling value and deriving value in return. The final stage is compounding the relationship. It is a misconception to assume that every body whose number is in your phone book is in your network.