What’s the first word that comes to mind when you think of networking

Awkward? Uncomfortable? Scary?

Networking is one of those things you know you need to do, but often have no clue where to start. Or if you do start, you immediately feel like you’d like to exit the building, curl up in a ball and rewatch seasons 1, 2 & 3 of This Is Us. Amiright?!

But instead, let’s flip the script on what networking actually is. Instead of thinking of it as some necessary evil, let’s position it as an activity that – when done correctly – can catapult our careers in the right direction. 

Because at its core, networking is just mutually beneficial professional relationships developed over time.

It doesn’t have to be scary. Rather, it can be community-focused, invigorating, and an opportunity-driver. 

Here are three other myths you may be believing about networking.

Myth #1: You Have to Go to Networking Events to Network

As a career coach, people expect me to love networking groups. Friends, I love to network, but I loathe going to networking events. To me, networking isn’t an event.

Networking happens in the middle of the day at a coffee shop, in your bible studies and at your regular workplaces. You don’t need to wait for a work happy hour to connect with people. See, when you get your posture correct on the purpose of networking – building intentional relationships – it becomes a lot more fun and a lot less nerve-wracking. 

Practical Tip: Reach out to someone from your alumni network via LinkedIn to catch up with next week via the phone. Or, you could ask a coworker from a different department to grab lunch, so you can both learn what the other does for the company!

Myth #2: I Don’t Need a Networking Strategy

While I welcome organic networking opportunities, I have seen for myself how important having a networking strategy can be for certain seasons. Sometimes, you need to network with people in different industries to get clarity on which move to make. Sometimes, you need to network with specific people at a specific company. Sometimes, you may just be networking to meet people who are in similar jobs. Whatever stage you’re in, just make sure you are clear on who you’re meeting with and why.

Practical Tip: Keep yourself organized with a networking spreadsheet. Create a list of all the people you’d like to connect with and those that you have met with in the past. If you go through a job change, this list will be invaluable!

Myth #3: Only Extroverts are Good at Networking

Sure, extroverts tend to be good in social settings, but introverts can be just as successful (if not more!) at networking. Some of my best networkers are my introverted clients. It’s because introverts are naturally good at going deep, listening well and focusing. These are such gifts and often overlooked when building professional relationships. Extroverts – take note! 

Practical Tip: If you’re an introvert and you’re about to enter into a networking situation, be sure to schedule in some down time afterwards. Recharging is important so you don’t get burnt out on people! 

As the old adage goes, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” And what a beautiful thing that is! It means you don’t have to do this career thing alone. Let your network be your biggest cheerleaders, dream pushers and secret weapon.