“People can smell artificiality on you.”
If the idea of networking makes you nauseous, you’re not alone—and science backs up your disgust.
According to research out of the University of Toronto, professional networking feels icky for good reason. Relationships formed based on a career need, rather than for sincere friendship, trigger our moral disgust—linked, in turn, to physical feelings of uncleanliness. The researchers theorized that this visceral reaction makes us network less frequently, and less effectively.
This week we battled with our brains and willpower while giving up on work-life balance.
Sometimes it seems like much of work life is spent trying to find a balance that is always just out of reach: coming up with great ideas, and having the willpower to follow through, staying both productive and healthy, networking without being annoying.
While we can’t solve all of you problems, we explored ways to bring a little more balance into your work life this week.
Here are the stories you loved in Leadership, for the week of August 18.
Here’s how to keep in touch with your connections, without becoming a stalker.
From finding a job to meeting your next business partner or new client, you know that there are countless ways that your network can help you when you need it.
The problem is that reaching out, especially out of the blue, can feel awkward and inauthentic. You want to establish regular communication so that any requests are just part of the conversation.
So how do you reach out without feeling sketchy about the whole thing? “The key is if you strive to provide real value in your outreach, people will look forward to hearing from you, every time,” says Jenny Powers, founder of the professional women’s networking group, Running With Heels. “Soon enough, they’ll be reaching out to you as well and it won’t feel like a one way street.”
Networking in a new industry can be daunting for even the most socially adept. Here’s how to dissolve the nerves.
Networking is research-proven to be the overwhelmingly best way to land a job, better than job board hunting and recruiter services.
But for most of us—introverts, especially—selling oneself as a “brand” doesn’t come naturally. Something as small as fully owning the skills section of your resume feels like pulling your own teeth; shoving yourself out the door to walk into a room of strangers feels like a root canal.
Here’s how to calm the nerves and awkwardness that come with wading into a crowd of industry pros, in search of your next big break:
“Just as the most successful management teams bring complementary strengths to the table, so the most meaningful professional networks do as well….even if it takes a bit more effort.”
“The meeting requests that now jump to the top of my list are the few, very smart entrepreneurs who say, ‘I’d like to have coffee to bounce an idea off of you and in exchange I’ll tell you all about what we learned about xx.’”
Would you do a favor for this person, or ask a favor of them?
If so, make the connection. If not, pass.
1. Be genuine.
2. Stay in touch.
“Just as we teach our children how to ride a bike, we need to teach them how to navigate social media and make the right moves that will help them. The physical world is similar to the virtual world in many cases. It’s about being aware. We can prevent many debacles if we’re educated.”
Callie Schweitzer, director of Marketing and Communications for Vox Media (which publishes the Verge, SB Nation, and Polygon), prefers to call herself a hybrid between a journalist, a brand strategist, and an audience hacker.
Her tips for becoming a networking guru:
Be genuine. Be well-read. And follow-up.
Here, Schweitzer explains how to use new media to ‘network your way to the top.’
How To Master The Email Introduction
Bringing people together is awesome. But like most social interactions there are unwritten rules. First Round Capital partner and ‘superconnector’ Chris Falic spells them out here.
Like any good scholar (or leader), Fralic lays out the over-arching goals for email intros: they should help everyone involved, they should make it easy for them tohelp you, and they should build your relationships and reputation along the way. Important stuff, right?
- Here are some of his tips:
- Always ask “May I?”: Fralic says to first ask permission from the parties involved before you fire off that connecter message. Why? “This makes it a choice for the recipient and doesn’t create an obligation,” he says.
- Be personal, not lazy: If you don’t know these people well, then at least do a bit of good-natured Google-stalking before you pelt them with generalities and requests. While in the days of handwritten letters it might have come with the inky territory, you should make sure your recipients know that you are writing for them, not some generalized nonperson.
- Tell them why they care: In journalism we call it a nut graf—the paragraph that’s the heart of the story. The reason that you care. An email will be (or should be) shorter than an article, but you still need a few sentences for why your reader cares and what’s in it for them.
- Prompt with presentation: Take the time to distill your message. Then, as Fralic says, bold your ask, underline key words, and put your links in your words. This is hypertext, after all, and spilling them across the page looks sloppy.
- Respond tactfully: Give the other person some room to breathe, Fralic says. If you’re being introduced via email, don’t inundate them with another message two minutes later. It gets a little overwhelming.
- Close that loop: If someone’s taken the time to introduce you to a contact of theirs, the least you can do is keep your karma clean and let them know what came of the connection.
Do you have any tips?
Read the full story here.
The Rise Of The Superconnector
I call them superconnectors because they link others in a more meaningful way than algorithms currently can, and they can’t survive unless they’re excellent at it.
Superconnectors follow a certain pattern: Helping others increases net productivity and success for both helper and helped.
Historically, there have always been people who can simply unlock doors; usually these are hard-to-reach folks like senators, celebrities, industry bigshots. Today’s entrepreneurial superconnectors are people mere mortals can access; their job is to show someone the right door and introduce the person with the key to it. And, fortunately for most of us, more of them are popping up all the time.
“You look at entrepreneurs and deals, and for me, very few of them came from a cold call,” Bethea explains. “I think there have always been connectors secretly weaving relationships together throughout the years, but now it’s getting brought into the light because it’s accelerating rapidly from social networking.”
Has a ‘superconnector’ helped you along the way?
Do you love going to events, but find yourself stranded during happy hour, tongue-tied and tucked in a corner? Initiating and maintaining conversations while networking is a necessary skill, and one you can easily improve with these simple tips.
When looking for a conversation partner, look for:
—Fun, inviting groups
—White-knuckled loners who look uncomfortable and will welcome your attempt to initiate dialogue
Questions to get the conversations flowing:
"What’s your connection to the event?"This question can uncover mutual contacts and usually leads to a more robust answer than if you asked the typical “Have you been to this event before?”
"What’s keeping you busy when you’re not at events like this or at work?" This question gives the encouragement necessary for the person to share his/her passions and outside interests. It is an excellent way to add some enthusiasm into a conversation that has hit a lull, especially if he/she would prefer to be doing that activity at that moment.
"Are you getting away this summer?" This question can lead to conversations about family, reveal special interests and, if you like talking about travel, it’s a sure-fire way to keep a conversation interesting.
"Are you working on any charity initiatives?" This question makes it easy to launch into a deeper connection. If they’re not involved with any projects, they often share reasons which is usually revealing, and if they are doing something of value they will be more than happy to share.
"How did you come to be in your line of work?" For some, the path to where they are today can be quite an interesting ordeal. Having a chance to revisit their story to success can leave helpful clues along the way as to who they are and what makes them tick.
Ideally small talk will uncover common interests, business alignments, the six degrees that separate you, potential need for your product or service, and basically whether or not you enjoy each other’s company.
The goal of conversation at functions is to establish enough common ground to determine a reason to connect again.
[Image: Flickr user Aquila]
The Power Of Circles (and we’re not talking about Google+ here).
In the 19th century, artists including Degas, Monet, and Renoir got together periodically to discuss their commissions, their patrons, and their industry. This circle met consistently, and the artists credited these small gatherings with not only making their careers but the rise of the impressionist movement.
(Source: Fast Company)