Why You Should Network Even When You Don’t Want To

Connections make the world go ‘round

Very few people enjoy professional networking events, and according to a study put out by Administrative Science Quarterly, there’s a reason for that. These events don’t work. Ninety-five percent of attendees hope to make new contacts, yet spend over 50% of the event talking to people they already know.

Another study from the same journal shows that networking to advance your career can actually make you feel uncomfortable. Turns out folks don’t like using people for their own nefarious  career-furthering purposes.

All of that is why Natasha Lyonne, star of Netflix’s Russian Doll and Orange is the New Black, has a simple two-step approach to networking. She spoke of her approach at The Cut’s “How I Get It Done” conference in New York, covered by Quartz.

  1. Get Out of the House

“You gotta leave the house in this life,” Lyonne said. “I don’t want to do anything ever … If you give me a day off, my dream is to stay in bed all day.”

But you won’t meet people, expand your network, or learn anything while staying in bed, no matter how wondrously fluffy your pillow is.

“Once I’m already there, I’m okay,” she said. “I’ve got my cellphone if it gets really bad … I’ve got my crossword puzzles.”

And the “there?” It doesn’t have to be a so-called “networking event.” Everything you do is networking. Your kid’s soccer game, going to the estate sale with your mom, anything you do that involves interacting with others. Think of them as friends first and business connections second. If you’re out of the house and meeting people, you’re networking.

  1. Nobody is a Nobody

“Every person is a fully realized person,” Lyonne said. “In my experience, all of the assistants at the management companies who seemed like lost puppies a decade ago are now the bosses of the company.”

Think of networking events (whether a professional mixer, a service activity, or something else) as a chance to make new friends. Not adding new drones to your contact arsenal.

If you only try to network with people in high-ranking positions, two things are going to happen:

  1. You may be nervous.
  2. They’ll quickly realize you’re only talking to them to make a connection.

That’s why it’s much easier to network with people at, or below, your own experience level. There’s less pretense. And the people more likely to help you on your career path are those you have a genuine, real connection with.

And that’s that! Networking is all about making real connections with other human beings. If you try to network with people you don’t like, it probably won’t get you very far. Connect yourself with individuals you admire and mesh with, and you’ll be amazed at what happens next.

How do you handle networking? Let us know in the comments section below!

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