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Networking Mindset

There was a time when the word “networking” made me uneasy. I believed it had no relevance to my job or personal life, questioning why I should invest time in meeting random people.

I often dismissed it, thinking I had better things to do, and that life was too short for such activities. Looking back, I wish I had known then what I know now. Even if it seemed irrelevant at the time, I yearn for someone to have shared the importance of networking with me.

For some, networking is an uncomfortable endeavour, a genuine fear that hinders their engagement. Others find it to be a natural and effortless part of their lives.

Table of Contents

How do you authentically network?

Everywhere you turn, people emphasise the significance of networking, proclaiming that your network is your net worth.

They stress the importance of knowing the right people and being able to introduce others. While this holds true, the question remains: How do you authentically network with enjoyment and fun?

Authentic networking is about building meaningful relationships based on genuine connections. By defining your purpose, being yourself, listening actively, utilising social media thoughtfully, attending events with purpose, following up thoughtfully, offering value, and being patient and persistent, you can cultivate a network that enhances both your personal and professional life. Remember, it’s not about the quantity of connections but the quality of relationships that truly matters.

As I write this, I can’t help but smile, anticipating upcoming events, Zoom calls, and the new connections I am set to make in the coming months. I am genuinely excited about the possibilities.

The approach to networking depends on where you are in your life and why you choose to engage in it. It can be a focused effort, or it can be done in the background with minimal time investment, ultimately paying you back in dividends later on.

Embrace networking not as a chore, but as a pathway to personal and professional growth, filled with enjoyable and meaningful connections.

Types of Networking: Exploring Various Avenues for Connection

Networking can take various forms, starting with face-to-face interactions. Joining professional organisations, clubs, or associations related to your interests provides opportunities to expand your network at meetings, conferences, or events.

I have recently joined few networking clubs just by hearing about that from others and researching online.

You can also participate in industry conferences, seminars, and workshops which all would foster meaningful connections.

In the virtual realm, leverage social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter for engaging in discussions and connecting with professionals in your field.

Attend virtual events, such as conferences and webinars, to network globally from the comfort of your own space. Informal networking through local meetups or casual gatherings offers a relaxed atmosphere for striking up conversations and forming connections. Also, networking within your organisation is equally important; attend internal events like team-building activities to build strong relationships.

Additionally, establishing mentor-mentee relationships can be a powerful form of networking. Seek out mentors in your industry who can provide guidance and share experiences, helping you navigate your professional journey. 

I had an amazing mentor during my professional career, that helped me to learn things faster and develop professionally with confidence. My mentor helped me to believe myself which led me to feeling more confident and happy in my career. 

Build relationships

Remember, the key to successful networking lies not only in the quantity of connections but in the quality of relationships built.

Choose the networking avenues that align with your personality and goals and approach each interaction with authenticity and a genuine desire to learn and contribute.

The above is all well and good if you want and need to do networking, but what about if you are not feeling up for it.

Breaking the Networking Barrier: Start with a Minimum Step

If the idea of networking still feels daunting, consider taking at least one minimum step that could potentially transform your professional trajectory: create connections on LinkedIn.

Even if you manage to convince yourself that networking isn’t crucial, this small action alone can yield significant returns in the future.

Looking back at my university days, I regret not realising the power of LinkedIn connections sooner. Had I actively expanded my network back then, my following would likely be substantial by now, and my reach with Mindset Kitchen would be even broader.

At the time, I couldn’t foresee myself hosting a show or aspiring to public speaking engagements. Life, with its unpredictable twists, often takes us down unexpected paths.

The reality is, the person you are today might have vastly different aspirations and interests five or ten years down the line.

Life unfolds, plans evolve, and your desires transform as you grow and learn. Networking serves as a catalyst for navigating these changes, providing you with a diverse array of opportunities.

Image below with my fellow PSA members during the dinner.

The Future of Networking: The Evolution of Social Media

In today’s digital age, with social media at the centre of nearly every facet of our lives, one can only imagine how crucial it will become in the next 10 years.

As we witness the rapid evolution of technology, it’s evident that the landscape of networking will continue to transform, and social media will play an increasingly pivotal role in connecting professionals across the globe.

Consider the impact platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and emerging professional networks are already having on the way we build and nurture connections.

In the next decade, these platforms are likely to undergo further innovations, making networking more accessible, interactive, and tailored to individual needs.

So, don’t wait until you find yourself in need of connections. Be proactive and start building your network now. The relationships you cultivate today may become invaluable assets in the future.

I cannot emphasise this enough – the seeds you plant today can blossom into unforeseen opportunities tomorrow. Take that first step, connect on LinkedIn, and open the door to a world of possibilities that may shape your journey in ways you never imagined.

The Power of Mentorship and Overcoming Networking Fears

“Do you want to get somewhere? – Find someone who has already got there.”

This simple yet profound statement resonates deeply in the world of personal and professional development.

As I navigate my Mindset Kitchen journey, I’ve discovered the truth in these words, nurturing and creating valuable relationships that have enriched me with knowledge and insights from those who have walked the path before me.

However, I must acknowledge that, like many, I too faced a fear of networking. The idea of approaching strangers and initiating conversations was daunting, especially in the days when online networking wasn’t as prevalent.

Today, the landscape has changed, making networking more accessible than ever. You can engage in meaningful conversations online, all while comfortably wearing your pyjama pants.

If a connection doesn’t resonate, you have the freedom to disengage without the awkwardness of face-to-face encounters. It’s a low-pressure environment that encourages experimentation.

In a recent episode of Mindset Kitchen with Matt Black, we delved into the importance of networking and the art of doing it right.

A key takeaway was the emphasis on being people-focused rather than solely self-focused. Successful networking isn’t just about what you can gain; it’s about building authentic connections and offering value to others.

Build Networking Skills

If the fear of networking still lingers, consider some easily achievable networking skills that can make a significant difference in your journey.

Networking is a skill that goes beyond mere interactions; it involves active listening, fostering authenticity, and initiating follow-ups.

Truly listening to others demonstrates genuine interest, while authenticity builds trust and makes interactions more meaningful. Taking the initiative to follow up after making a connection can transform a brief encounter into a lasting relationship.

Moreover, offering value to others, whether through advice or support, is integral to successful networking. Continuous learning, staying informed about industry trends, enhances credibility and makes you a valuable connection. Developing networking skills, whether online or in-person, can open doors to unimaginable opportunities, propelling you towards success.

My Networking Transformation

When the idea for Mindset Kitchen first took shape, I was just beginning my networking journey—a novice, taking baby steps. I knew that networking was crucial for Mindset Kitchen’s success. Today, it’s an integral and intentional part of my daily routine.

Reflecting on this transformation, if someone had told me years ago that networking would be the cornerstone of my venture’s success, I might have dismissed it as implausible.

Yet, here I am, realising the profound value of a network that has become invaluable to me.

Mindset Kitchen is not just a project; it’s a community fuelled by the diverse expertise, insights, and inspiration. So, consider this an invitation to join the Mindset Kitchen community.

Be a part of this thriving network where we can collectively contribute to each other’s success.

Let’s break down the barriers, support one another, and navigate the ever-changing landscape together. Trust me, the connections you make today might just be the missing pieces that propel you toward your goals tomorrow.

Join me, be a part of it.

Navigating the Challenges of Networking: A Personal Reflection

As I write down these thoughts, I must admit that my journey in networking is an ongoing process, and there are days when the prospect of making new connections feels more challenging than others.

A vivid memory that comes to mind is my experience at the Public Speakers Conference (PSA) in October 2023, a three-day event that brought together around two hundred individuals, most of whom seemed like seasoned experts in networking.

Surrounded by this sea of faces, the initial thought that crossed my mind was, “Oh great, they all know each other.” It’s a sentiment many of us have likely felt at networking events, the fear of being the outsider in a crowd of established connections.

Fortunately, having attended previous PSA events, I recognised a few familiar faces and began with friendly greetings. However, the true essence of networking lies not in conversing with those you already know but in seizing the opportunity to forge new connections and learn something new.

On one of those conference days, I made a conscious decision to position myself by the coffee machine—a strategic choice, I thought. As it turned out, the machine was broken, but this unforeseen twist worked in my favour. It became an ingenious conversation starter, attracting people my way. In the next 15 minutes, I engaged in conversations with individuals whose influence on my life would prove to be profound.

I am forever grateful for those chance encounters, as they led to connections that enriched my personal and professional journey.

For those who find themselves grappling with strategies in unfamiliar social settings, it’s worth noting that you don’t need elaborate plans.

Even if you feel like an outsider, it only takes about 15 minutes to change that perception.

Approach someone, initiate a conversation, and ask a simple question about them. More often than not, people are open to connecting, sharing, and expanding their networks.

So, the next time you attend an event and feel a bit out of place, remember that a small gesture, a simple question, or even standing by a metaphorical “broken coffee machine” can lead to unexpected connections that shape the course of your journey.

Embrace the discomfort, take that step, and you may be surprised at the valuable connections waiting to unfold.

Image from the same PSA Summit with a nearby coffee machine 🙂

Simplify Networking: Start with One Step, Embrace the Possibilities

While the narrative above may seem like an extensive checklist, networking need not be complicated.

It’s about taking that first step, no matter how small. Whether it’s initiating online connections, engaging in face-to-face conversations, exploring potential LinkedIn contacts, or even mustering the courage to share your journey with like-minded individuals, simplicity is the key.

Start with the approach that feels most comfortable to you. If you’re hesitant, begin by creating a LinkedIn page or reaching out to potential connections online. If face-to-face interaction is more your style, attend local events or consider organising a small gathering where you can connect with others who share your interests.

And here’s a secret: even if you think you don’t need to network, give it a second thought. The realisation often dawns that the belief was misleading.

Networking is not just a professional necessity; it’s a doorway to unforeseen opportunities and personal growth.

Connect with me on LinkedIn, FacebookInstagram, or YouTube.

Let’s schedule a Zoom call or meet for coffee!

The power of connection lies in the unknown possibilities it holds. You never know how a single interaction today might shape your journey tomorrow.

So, whether you’re just starting or contemplating the value of networking, remember that it’s the simple steps that lay the foundation for meaningful connections. Embrace the uncertainty, take that initial step, and who knows what incredible opportunities and collaborations may unfold as a result of a single connection.

1 Comment

  • George Anderson
    Posted March 4, 2024 at 6:25 pm

    There is some great advice in here Dajana, thank you for sharing!

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