Common Misconceptions About Networking

Many people think of “networking” as those uncomfortable events at which a gaggle of strangers gather around a half-empty buffet table and make awkward attempts at small talk. And while networking can be like this at the more formal events, it doesn’t have to be. If approached with the right attitude, networking can be a way to form new friendships and have fun. It can also be a source of personal growth.

The point of networking is lost on some people. The idea is to make connections, not transactions. If you take a genuine interest in others and help people reach their goals, you’ll be successful. Don’t look at networking only as a “what’s-in-it-for-me” proposition. Ask others how you can help them.

When you’re just starting out in your career, you may feel like you don’t have much to offer. Au contraire! You probably know all about the latest blogs and online stories, for one thing. Share some of your favorite online resources with the folks you meet and want to help.

Sharing information about yourself and what you are interested in may also help you in ways you cannot predict. Melissa, a computer sales representative, once attended a networking event where she met Ray, a business owner with a deep appreciation for fine wines. He talked to her about his experiences working in France, and traveling Europe visiting the finest vineyards and wineries. He did not know that Melissa was in the process of writing a book for executives to learn proper wine etiquette. Melissa and Ray never worked directly together in the computer industry, but they have met several times over dinner to discuss ways that Melissa can market her book.