There are two particular things that most of us hate about having to network.
- One is its baldly transactional nature. “the unpleasant task of trading favors with strangers.”
- The other is that needing to do it feels like a vulnerability.
Having to put yourself in the hands of a stranger or near stranger for help is stressful, too. Add to that any kind of time pressure — say, if you’ve suddenly lost your job or you’re in the midst of family upheaval — and you’re likely to feel bad about yourself at a time when you need to appear to be on solid footing.
Now it’s time to get OK with seeking help for yourself — that’s the key to making networking work.
- Here’s a little secret: At some point, every one of us will have to ask for help from someone else.
- The key to overcoming your fears about networking is to practice a little bit every day — and to do it when you don’t need specific help. I call it “keeping in loose touch”: You pop up now and again to your connections and acquaintances (old and new), without any obligation to follow up or see each other in person
- The guiding principle for easier networking is this: Nurture it before you need it.
The effect of loose touch is to put you into someone’s consciousness for a few minutes.
Shared interests are fertile ground for loose touch, even with professional contacts or as you scan the headlines, you can share a story or two that you know are of interest to people I know, along with a short note: “This made me think of you. What’s your take? And how are you?”
The whole point of loose touch is that it’s not a burden. The more obligations you end up with, the less chance you have of keeping up.
Just spending 10 minutes a day on loose touch can keep you connected with a lot of people.