Posted August 26, 2021
By Sean Ring
The Dirty on Networking
Youve gotten through another week. I dont know about you, but I feel like Ive waded through a week of political excrement while simultaneously continued to build the moat around my digital castle.
Its just about the best one can do.
Reach Out and Touch Someone
A lunatic extravert though I am, Ive never liked the concept of networking. I had never understood why I didnt want to get out and meet new people.
After all, if Im incredibly outgoing and gregarious, why wouldnt I like introducing myself to other people with whom I could be outgoing and gregarious?
It seems the answer comes not from stagefright but our moral compass.
A 2014 paper, The Contaminating Effects of Building Instrumental Ties: How Networking Can Make Us Feel Dirty, explains an interesting phenomenon.
When trying to build a professional, rather than personal, network, most people feel dirty.
From the papers abstract:
We focus in particular on professional-instrumental networking: the purposeful creation of social ties in support of task and professional goals. Unlike personal networking in pursuit of emotional support or friendship, and unlike social ties that emerge spontaneously, instrumental networking in pursuit of professional goals can impinge on an individuals moral puritya psychological state that results from viewing the self as clean from a moral standpointand thus make an individual feel dirty.
This is a critical observation.
Heres what to do about it:
- Youre there for a reason. Whenever Im going to a professional shindig, I remind myself that I have something valuable to give, or I wouldnt have been invited.
- Get clean. I remind myself that most others there either feel dirty themselves or have felt dirty in the past about networking and have gotten over it.
- Smile! When I first walk into a room full of people, I smile. Ive made it a rule. Smiling activates tiny molecules in your brain that fend off stress. These molecules, called neuropeptides, facilitate communication between neurons in your brain. Also, when you smile, your brain releases dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin. The same rule applies to Zoom calls.
- Say your new acquaintances name three times. John, its a pleasure to meet you. And what do you do, John? John, let me introduce you to my friend, Bill. Think youll forget Johns name after that? Unlikely.
- Have your elevator speech ready. It can be as simple as this: Hi, my name is _____. I work in _______. I/my team ________. Whats your name? For example, My name is Sean Ring. Im the Editor of the Rude Awakening. Every morning, I share my thoughts about how to get ahead in this crazy world over your first cup of coffee. Whats your name? Simple.
- Try not to corner anyone. This is one Ive always had trouble with. If someones interesting, I dont want to let my new acquaintance go. But let him go, I must. Always open the circle when someone approaches. It refreshes the conversation. And it takes the pressure off each person by allowing the new guy to speak for a bit.
- Actively listen. This takes practice. Try to hang on to every word. Dont just listen for keywords. Listen for everything. As Sherlock Holmes once said, Never trust to general impressions, my boy, but concentrate yourself upon details. Those details are where business begins.