‘I hate networking’
I’ve heard that so many times. I hate networking too. I hate ‘traditional’ networking. Or the most common concept of networking.
Fake politeness, the uneasiness and feeling uncomfortable introducing yourself to strangers worrying what they may think, predictable questions and answers, pretending you are listening but you are not because you are incredibly bored and you just want to make more connections.
But I don’t think that’s how networking should be. It’s not about quantity, it is all about quality.
For me networking is about meeting new people and finding out not just about their work and how they got where they are, but their life in general.
I firmly believe every single human has amazing stories to share we can all learn from.
On Friday, I had a chat with a local baker who I met on Facebook and he recently started his own business making and selling amazing cakes (blog coming soon). And we didn’t just talk about cakes. We talked about the food culture in the UK and Cyprus, homemade cooking and the struggles of setting up your own business amongst other things. It felt and it was a natural, honest conversation. That’s my kind of networking.
It makes it much easier, less uncomfortable and less scary to network when you are just yourself and you try to really get to know the other person sitting opposite you.
Many think networking is only meeting new people. But when was the last time you had a chat over coffee with colleagues you know of but don’t really know?
Yesterday I spent an hour having coffee and chatting with Osama Khan, the Director of Learning and Teaching and head of the University’s Solent Learning and Teaching Institute (SLTI). I’ve known Osama for a while but we never got the chance to really get to know each other. And it was one of the most pleasant, informative, honest, enjoyable conversations I had recently.
The most common comment I hear from people about my blog is how honest it is and how openly I write. And I’m very proud it comes across so clearly.
It’s still amazes me after 7 years of being in this country how others are often surprised and caught of guard when you say what you really think, always within reason (rudeness is never OK), when you are being honest.
But that’s how you end up having amazing, interesting, real conversations with others, that’s how you really connect with others, not just when networking.
I urge you to get out there and ask whoever you’d like to network with to meet for a cuppa. What’s the worst it can happen? If they say no for whatever reason, it’s their loss. They’ll miss out on meeting an incredible person with great stories and lessons to share.
It’s easy to forget how awesome you are when comparing yourself with other’s careers and achievements or when you’ve been underestimated or looked down in the past. But don’t, please don’t forget how amazing you are.
Meeting new people is one of my favourite things to do and I’d be happy to meet with anyone who’d like to have a coffee (if it’s Greek coffee even better) and a chat.
My way of networking.