Developing relationships with others can be hard for an introvert. We understand you. It can be frustrating when people call you rude, when you’re quiet, or you’re forced to small talk with a colleague. However, it’s crucial to understand the importance of personal networking.
Personal networking can help you in endless ways. It’s not just limited to people you work or study with. It can be anyone, from your neighbor to the barista that served you a coffee this morning. You never know what opportunities you both may have for each other.
Sometimes, personal networking is about support. There are indeed a few problems that not even your best friends or spouse can understand. But someone from your network might know what you feel because they probably have been through it. And to understand one’s pain, you need to go through it. In situations like those, people from your personal network can be your support.
What is Personal Networking?
Don’t worry. It is not as technical as it sounds. Personal networking is interacting and creating relations with people with similar interests. If you’re thinking, “where can I find people who share the same interests as me?” Don’t be too hard on yourself.
You can find people to engage with anywhere, from online platforms to cafes. The options are endless.
You meet people at different locations. When you engage with them, it’s different with each group considering where and how you met them. Suppose you’re at an event for all the people working in the tech industry. The people you meet there will probably talk to you about their experience in this field. And you will be doing the same. It’s not like you both will meet and start discussing your families unless it’s a cousin or a long-lost neighbor. These types of networks help you with job and business opportunities.
Importance of Personal Network
The mutual benefits of a personal network are endless. But remember, personal networking is about being beneficial to each other. It cannot be one-sided that only one person is gaining favors, and when you need the other person, they’re not there for you. It’s not a network. It’s called being taken advantage of.
1. Connections That Might Open Door to Opportunities
Everyone’s heard the phrase “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” And sadly, that is the case. You might be denied an opportunity for which you had talent but no connections. This is where your personal network may come in.
But remember, don’t ever use your connections for a bad cause. Because one day it will eventually come back to you. This might even ruin your other relationships or career.
2. Gaining Access to Multiple Perspectives
Suppose you’re starting a new business. You still have doubts about a few things like how to start or how to file for a permit. As in business, there’s so much more than just selling. You can go to the trusted people in your personal network and tell them about your plan. That way, you can get to know different people's opinions from different perspectives.
This can even lessen the risk of losing money or your business failing. Because once you get to know almost everything that can go wrong, you can come up with a solution before it happens. Or, if you cannot come up with a solution at the moment, you will at least be ready for it. You can share any problem with the people in your personal network and see multiple perspectives on anything. Always remember, a fresh pair of eyes can see clearer.
3. Boost Your Confidence
As an introvert, you might be reluctant to talk to people unless it’s really necessary. If low confidence is one of the reasons, then you need to start personal networking right now. It may seem weird at first when you step out of your comfort zone, but later, you’ll become fearless.
Once your mind sees that there is nothing to be afraid of when socializing, you’d be willing to do it more often. The confidence you gain from personal networking will be helpful in every step of your life. It can help you with college and job interviews.
4. Exchange of Knowledge
You can always learn something from the people you interact with. Even your cab driver can say a few meaningful sentences throughout the ride, and you might be able to squeeze wisdom out of them later.
When you interact with people and talk about specific topics, they can enlighten you with knowledge you never came across. Extra knowledge doesn’t and cannot harm anyone. Who knows, a few words of wisdom from a cab driver may save you from a life-changing disaster.
Tips for Personal Networking
There are endless ways to network. You can build connections through Facebook or other social media platforms. Follow these five steps so that building a personal network becomes easy for you.
1. Start With the People You Know
Now, this circle will involve everyone you know, from friends, neighbors, and family to your classmates or club members. Talk to them about your interests and ask them if they know someone with a similar liking.
When the people you already know introduce to other another person, socializing might not seem as hard as it seems now.
2. Don’t Run Away From Meeting New People
Networking is not about only meeting people for career opportunities. Don’t distance yourself from building connections with a person because he is not related to your field. Personal networking is about supporting and helping each other grow, whether in a career or mindset.
Distancing yourself from people in your personal network just because they now cannot help you with anything is a big no-no. It’s good to meet or communicate with people in your personal network, even if there’s no purpose.
3. Start a Blog
This might seem a bit weird. But if you’re someone who loves to write, here’s how blogging can help you socialize. You can display your social media profiles on your blog for people with similar interests to contact you or give you new ideas.
Image taken from Strikingly user’s site
For creating a blogging website, you can use Strikingly. It is an easy-to-use site builder which can create websites suitable for viewing across all devices. It’s totally your choice if you want to build your website for free or if you want to pay a few dollars for the cool features.
Not just that, you can even use the Strikingly forms to interact with your readers.
1. Sign up for free
Image taken from Strikingly
2. Click on the “create new site” button.
Image taken from Strikingly
Image taken from Strikingly
4. Once you’re happy with your design, publish it.
Image taken from Strikingly
4. Fake It Till You Make It
If you don’t have the confidence to approach and talk to people, fake it. Some things that can help you with that are controlling body movements and listening actively. By controlling body movements, we mean stop making little movements you do when anxious such as shaking legs or fidgeting fingers.
Another tip is to wear shades when you can. They will make you feel secure and act as a block. Also, they will protect you from eye contact, which may be awkward sometimes.
5. Attend Events
By attending events, we don’t mean going to networking events. In fact, events with the word “networking” are the worst places to network. Most people in events like those, are there to find career-related opportunities. They are not interested in building relationships. Once they’ve got the opportunity, they may not even contact you again. And that may lead you to hate personal networking.
By attending events, we mean going to events that have something else going on such as trade shows, conferences, or other events surrounding your interests.
6. Make it Easy for Others to Initiate a Conversation With You
We recommend you think of some good icebreakers before going to an event. If you can’t apply those, here’s what you can do to make people talk to you first.
Wear something that would give people a reason to talk to you. It could be anything, an unusual fashion statement that you love. Or a T-shirt that says something witty. Explore your options and remember not to fake anything (except your confidence) to look unique.
7. Make People Talk About What They Want
Everyone loves to talk about them and their interests. To start a conversation,you can ask questions like, “what brings you to this event?” or “what cool projects are you working on at the moment?” Since you’re at an event targeting people of similar interests, you would know what they’re talking about.
Once you know about other people's wants, it’s easy to build connections.
We hope this article, answered all of your questions and the personal networking tips listed above were practical. Try to step out of your comfort zone, and you’d see this world is full of amazing people.