Have you ever gone into a networking event just feeling really anxious or nervous or maybe even scared to approach complete strangers? You’re wondering what to say, how to make it feel natural, and what you can offer. Or maybe the thought of reaching out blindly to people through LinkedIn or email is too intimidating. If this sounds familiar, don’t worry because I’m going to share three practical tips that you can implement to finally start networking confidently!
3 Practical Mindset Shifts to Start Networking Confidently
Mindset Shift #1: Separate the job you want from the reason you’re reaching out
Let me start by acknowledging that I know a lot of you are networking because you want a job. So this tip might sound a little bit counterintuitive, but I want to emphasize that jobs typically come from a layer of trust and rapport that has been built. They come from somebody who wants to vouch on your behalf because they enjoy who you are as a person and they can speak to your character. They are willing to put their reputation on the line because of who you have demonstrated yourself to be.
So as much as you want a job, trust that when you build a genuine connection and friendship, that job naturally comes to you. So if you think about it, like in your last workplace, if you had a job opening that you could refer somebody to, you would much rather introduce a friend or a family member, somebody that you can really speak towards to the recruiter or the hiring manager, versus just somebody who messaged you blindly, or a cold stranger that said, Hey, could you hook me up with a job?
I think that is actually quite liberating when you think about it, because it takes off a whole lot of pressure. When you can really lead into a conversation with just genuine curiosity and go into the flow of what’s coming up naturally for you and you get to know this one person on a genuine level, everything else will start to mesh into place because one they’re going to start feeling like they really appreciate you and your curiosity and your genuine interest that you’re taking to. You’re going to be very present because you’re not focused on what do I say next? How do I sound intelligent with that next right question? But you’re really just in the flow of things. And then three again, when you can start to build that know like, and trust factor with the other person naturally over time, or maybe even after that conversation, that person is going to feel really genuinely connected and wanting to understand what your goals are, what your situation is.
Mindset Shift #2: Become Aware of Your Interpretations
As humans, we all look at the world through different filters and different lenses based on our previous experiences, based on our culture, the way that we grew up in society, the belief systems that have been programmed into us and so forth. So interpretations are really the opinions that we conclude when looking at a specific scenario or situation. Let me give you an example of a real-world interpretation I made once at a networking event.
I remember going into this networking event and meeting somebody who just didn’t seem like they were interested in talking to me. I felt like I was boring them! But later on, I was talking to a friend who actually knew this person and this person told the friend, “Oh my gosh, Emily was really cool. I’m really excited to connect with her. Do you mind giving me her contact information? I want to reach out!” So from my vantage point, I thought this person was so bored out of their mind and that we were just not vibing or connecting. But in reality, this person actually felt a genuine connection. And again, it was just me interpreting the situation (incorrectly) and coming up with my own conclusions.
The way I see this play out a lot, especially in networking, is when people reach out to someone and don’t hear back. One of their interpretations is that this person isn’t interested. But that’s not factual! We don’t know that 100%, because this person hasn’t even said anything at all. In reality, their lack of response could have been due to a number of reasons. Maybe they’re on vacation or doesn’t check their inbox every day. Maybe the message went to spam or their wife went into labor. It really could be ANY reason, yet most of us are quick to jump to the worst conclusion – they’re not interested.
So it’s really important that until something becomes the truth, meaning it becomes 100% factual, we don’t let our interpretations get the best of us. Anytime you feel like you are defeated or discouraged, or you just feel apathetic with moving on in your networking efforts, I really want you to question your interpretation and ask yourself if it’s 100% true. Do you have hard evidence knowing that this is exactly the reason why this person has responded or reached out? By the way, I’d love to hear one of your interpretations that you automatically jump to when you don’t get the results that you want. Leave a comment down below – I’d love to read them.
Mindset Shift #3: Allow Others the Gift of Helping You
I know there are tons of you who love helping others, but yet when it comes to yourself, you hold back from asking for help. I myself am one of those people, so I completely empathize and relate. But what I’ve found is that allowing others the gift of helping you is just as rewarding and satisfying as you helping somebody else. Think about it…we love helping others, right? We love giving them support. We feel the sense of personal fulfillment, knowing that we’ve made a difference in somebody else’s lives. And so why not give somebody else that same feeling? It’s so simple, yet we hold ourselves back because in our minds, we want to feel like we’re the ones who are giving more value. We’re the ones who are contributing more. We want things to be equal and fair.
A really simple mindset shift is to stop panicking about what it is that you can offer to somebody. A lot of times people just really appreciate and enjoy mentorship. I talked to so many leaders out there and every single one of them loves mentoring and training and helping others. So keep in mind that asking others for advice and help is actually a gift to people who want to share their expertise. It provides them the feeling of making a difference, which is incredibly rewarding!
Keep in mind, if somebody says no, it doesn’t make them a terrible person. It just means it’s not the right time right now and that’s okay. But for the people who say yes and want to help, we have to also trust that they are mature enough to put their own boundaries in place and set their own parameters. If they do say yes to you, you can trust that they really do have time and are willing to help. Otherwise, they would have declined!
As a job seeker, one of the most valuable gifts you can give is the recognition of how their advice has helped you or what you’ve done. Sharing what you’ve actually implemented because of them and sharing updates is incredibly rewarding for whoever has helped you. This is really where you’re going to start building the mentorship and the ongoing relationships with the people that you want to connect with, as well as those that want to help you in the process. So with that being said, I hope you found those three practical tips helpful. Let me know in the comments down below which one resonated with you the most.
If you’re ready to find a role that truly feels like your calling (even if you don’t have experience), check out my FREE on-demand masterclass to get the freshest strategies on how to go from feeling stuck to landing more ALIGNED interviews & offers.