I Hate Networking

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A note from Indie who is shy about networking.

Wondering if you have any nuggets of advice for how to network for young bucks or for people who just hate doing it.

I graduated from Purdue in May, and after a dead-end internship, I’m back on the job hunt. In college, I always heard that networking was important, but not from professors… and we certainly weren’t advised of the social guidelines of networking. My graduating class is full of people with 1000+ facebook contacts… of other jobless recent grads. Same story with my former SHRM student chapter. Sure, I can email my resume and check in once in a while, but so far… that hasn’t been fruitful.

So where to start? I have attended local professional luncheons, only to feel extremely uncomfortable about introducing myself. What’s the etiquette? Introduce yourself to strangers/possible contacts, get cards, and profess your need for a job? Are seasoned professionals actually willing to help some kid stranger? Especially when the benefit is largely one-sided? I wouldn’t expect a person I met for 5 minutes to recommend me to anyone. But perhaps I’m underestimating people’s kindness…

I’m friendly, but also on the quiet side. I’m willing to get awkward and uncomfortable if it will help me get a job, but I still don’t like the idea of networking.

So what would you suggest for people who are new to networking or who are extremely introverted? Start networking online first? What the hell do you say? Any advice would be appreciated.

Indie, college has failed you. No worries, though. It fails all of us. Here’s the big secret about networking:

  • No one likes it. No one. Especially college professors.

I am an extroverted writer, speaker, and micro-cat-celebrity. I have written a few posts on networking because I continue to struggle with it, too. Thankfully, there are people who understand how to make meaningful connections.

  • Keith Ferrazzi makes millions from his books on how to eat lunch with people.
  • Gary Vaynerchuk advises you to stop being needy and start being helpful. Additionally, he tells you to stop focusing on your own problems and start offering solutions and ideas.
  • My friend, Katie Del Guercio, is really good at networking. You can join KODA and talk about your fears, share your concerns about networking etiquette, and ask for tips.

Or you can order Networking For Dummies, which is now in its 8th edition.

I believe in conquering my fears and making a fool out of myself in a big, bold, brash way. Here are my personal (& random) ideas to help you overcome your insecurities about networking in real life.

  • Create a blog and write about your struggles with networking. Tell your story. Share what you’ve learned.
  • Try new things and live-tweet your experiences. Use a consistent hashtag like #networkingsucks or #ihatenetworking so people can follow your follies.
  • Connect my friend, Rebecca, Thornan, who offers 7 networking tips for Generation Y.

The world is weird, you never know when you’ll meet someone important. Be honest, be kind, and be brave. That’s about the best you can do in life.

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