As weird as the title of my blog post may sound, the strengths and weaknesses of an individual remain consistent in all domains of life. If one is mentally and physically strong, they could go out there and achieve anything. For example, Roger Federer. But not all of us are as strong as Federer so we need to look at our strengths and weaknesses. And if one of your strengths is that you are good at making friends from your school age irrespective of the gender, then you are definitely going to make a strong professional network. If you were good at studies, then you were probably groomed with the intention that friends will spoil your study routine and so you would have grown up a loner except for some other selective nerdy friends. For example, Sheldon and co from the Big Bang Theory. The same pattern extends at your workplace too. Result : You are unable or reluctant to network even when you have an IQ as good as Einstien himself! But Networking at workplace is important in a lot of ways than you can imagine. This everyone knows and you would also have realized by now.
Alright, now that the narrative has been set, let’s revisit the title of this blog. Yes, people who are good at their first date are good at professional networking. If you don’t agree with this title, stop reading and go do some other nerdy things that you were doing before being distracted by this blog. I sincerely apologize for wasting your 2 minutes. But if you are interested, read on!
Now that we agree on the premise, being a passionate Dating coach myself who has personally transformed from being an introvert to an extrovert and coaching quite a few individuals to transform their thinking about Dating, I want to jot down a few observations that help in converting a first date into success and help professionals apply similar approach towards professional networking. Yes, this is actually happening now and I am giving you these tips on networking inspired from the first date approach!
It is very important to set the right expectations. What are you expecting from the person who you are looking to engage with. This is most important than what the other person is trying to extract out of you. If your expectations are low key, you will never try too hard to impress. It is very important not to try too hard to impress, especially when the person you are trying to impress is a few designations up the ladder. They would have seen thousands of people trying to network with them in the past for various reasons. If you can read the other person’s expectations and if they seem too high for you, its better not to pursue. Because at the end of the day one of the two is going to be disappointed, And we don’t want that, do we?
Try to have clear and non toxic intentions. No one is going to solve your problem for you. The person who you are going to network wont either. If you go with a quid pro quo approach, it may not work out well. Make sure your intentions are clear, that you are genuinely interested in knowing about the other person and what they do or what their qualifications are. Also you have to make sure they don’t have any cryptic intentions behind letting you network with them. This may not be evident instantly but keep your eyes and ears open, especially during the first interaction. If you get some negative vibes, try ending the networking attempt and walk away.
At least during the first interaction, its very crucial not to be judgemental about the person or what they do. Its a cloud that would block sun rays from reaching your eyes. Unless you see or listen clearly to what the person has to offer, how can you gauge where this interaction is going to take you? Too many interactions have failed just because we go with pre-conceived notions about how people dress, how people talk, how people conduct themselves at their workplace. The coconut is hard and hurtful on the outside but deep inside they are soft and nourishing. Are you looking for nourishment or appearances? Its for you to decide.
Everyone has a unique talent. Agreed that we are all working for our bread and butter (with a few exceptions, of course, who are working just for some diversion). So its very important to discover that unique signature of the person who you are looking to network with. Its also equally important to let the person know what your unique signature is. Now if you ask me what your unique signature is, then its time for some introspection. Find out your passion. Your passion is your unique signature. Its not your hobby. Its your purpose in life. Some of us are gifted in doing certain things. If you are still struggling to find your purpose, then remember what your parents or siblings or friends used to appreciate about you. Maybe it was a natural talent that you were unaware of but everyone else around you could see clearly that you were born to do. This gift may have gone into deep freezer because you suddenly realized its not going to help you earn your bread and butter. Dig deep. Bring it out of deep freezer. Present this to the person who you are networking with. No one wants to talk only about work, trust me. Similarly you should show equal effort in knowing what the other person’s unique signature is. If none exists, don’t interrogate, something will come up in subsequent networking windows.
Happy to help
One thing what people remember most is that one person who helped during the time of crisis or apparently seeming times of crisis. Everyone has their own workload. That’s the whole purpose why one might be employed. However, what is more desirable is that when we know someone is in a tricky situation than us and no one is willing to help the person, then if we lend a helping hand without any expectation of being repaid in cash or kind, then we would leave a true impact on the other person. Bottomline is that everyone is working for the same organization. So if you have some 10 minutes to spare and this 10 minutes is definitely going to help the other person (not necessarily in resolving the issue on hand but emotionally), then you are their messiah. Remember, times change. Tomorrow, you could find yourself in a similar situation where you thought someone should come and save you. At such a crisis your network will definitely help. Not necessarily to pay your debt back but in true professional sense. End of the day, that person works for the same organization too!
— Varun Gowtham Mannava