Many of the common excuses that people use to avoid networking don’t hold water, writes career expert Hannah Morgan.• I don’t know anyone. Yes, you do! You know past co-workers, friends, family and service providers. Overcome this by believing you are merely seeking knowledge.
• I don’t have time. Are you saying your career isn’t important? Or are you saying you don’t understand how networking will help your career?
• I can’t afford it. Set money aside for coffee, gas, and one paid professional association group meeting per month. Take it from your entertainment/dining-out budget. Be smart about how and when you schedule your meetings.
• I’m too shy. Is it uncomfortable? Yes, but this really isn’t an excuse. Watch others who do it with ease. Tag along with people who enjoy meeting new people and they will gladly introduce you to others. It is what they love to do. By the way, introverts make excellent listeners.
• I don’t know what to talk about. You simply need to ask questions about the other person. Focus on learning about them and what they do. Examples: What led you to set up your own business/be an accountant, etc.? How have changes in technology most affected your business? What trends do you see that will affect your organization and industry? What’s been the best conference session?
The challenge for many of us is to step outside our comfort zones and do new things, writes Morgan. And you can learn to be more comfortable networking.
— Adapted from “10 Lies We Tell Ourselves About Networking,” Hannah Morgan, U.S. News and World Report.