4 False Beliefs About Networking in the Social Jungle

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October 3, 2013

Banish these falsehoods from your thinking, and you'll pave the way for effective networking.

By Sandy Jones-Kaminski, Author of I'm at a Networking Event--Now What???

Since this is my first column for BioSpace.com, I thought it best to set the stage by reviewing--and debunking--what I've identified as a few common myths around networking. I hope this column helps some of the nervous networkers out there begin to have a better experience while they're connecting with others.

For those already comfortable making the most out of networking opportunities, I hope you'll find some new insights on how to further develop your networking muscle. At the very least, my goal is to set the stage for all to approach networking with a much more open mind and a pay-it-forward approach.

1. Myth No. 1: Networking means you're looking to use people to achieve selfish goals or opportunistically ask people for help.

Reality: According to The Oxford Dictionary, the definition of the word "network" is: a group of people who exchange information, contacts and experience for professional or social purposes.

Networking can, therefore, be defined as one's efforts to create this group. And it can be done honestly and considerately. Without a doubt, you can insure success if you treat networking as an exchange of ideas, information and experiences. And because reciprocity is key in networking, be generous in sharing your talents, knowledge and ideas, and always be respectful of and demonstrate appreciation for those around you, whether they appear to be able to help you out immediately or not.

2. Myth No. 2: You have to be a born networker or a natural at it.

Reality: Anyone can learn the skills needed to be an effective networker. Just like management and leadership skills, networking skills can be taught and learned. Start by getting comfortable asking people you meet "What are you working on these days?" or "What do you need help with right now?"

3. Myth No. 3: You must have above-average charisma to be a good networker.

Reality: You merely need to be thoughtful, sincere and genuinely helpful. You get offered opportunities or introductions from people who trust you. There is a hidden pay-it-forward network out there, but you have to be willing to be open and giving to be part of it.

4. Myth No. 4: You have to be a good talker or an overly chatty "schmoozer" to be a good networker.

Reality: The truth is almost the exact opposite. According to Guy Kawasaki, co-founder of Garage Technology Ventures and author of the recently published book Reality Check, "The mark of a good conversationalist is not that you can talk a lot. The mark is that you can get others to talk a lot. Thus, good schmoozers are good listeners, not good talkers."

About the Author

Sandy Jones-Kaminski is the author of "I'm at a Networking Event--Now What???" which was ranked #1 on the 2010 Inc.com Holiday Gift Guide Wish List and has been a VP of Networking for a major national professional development association. Since 1998, she's been a executive in the human capital resources and services industry and currently shares her hard-earned insights on effective networking and personal branding via webinars, panels, keynotes, one-on-one consulting, her blog and workshops. Sandy has written numerous articles for WomenEntrepreneur and The Salary Reporter on www.PayScale.com and has been featured on Fox Business News, NWJobs, Work Goes Strong, Bankrate.com, You're Hired! and My Global Career. Learn more via her website at www.belladomain.com.

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