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Connectedness In Action: How I’ve Learned To Love Networking

Networking. Does the word fill you with dread, nausea or excitement?

I started out hating networking, but now I love it! Let me share how I overcame my fear, discomfort and resistance to networking by shifting my perspective from it's about me, to it's about them.

At the start of this year, the thought of networking brought me out in a cold sweat. I avoided it, I procrastinated, I cancelled attending networking events all because I had built them up into a terrifying super-professional event at which I obviously didn’t belong. Imposter syndrome anyone?

And when you are the person who helps people build confidence, transform their mindset and overcome situations exactly like this, it is incredibly embarrassing.

Unfortunately, in today’s society networking is essential. According to the Harvard Business Review, ‘research shows that professional networks lead to more job and business opportunities, broader and deeper knowledge, improved capacity to innovate, faster advancement, and greater status and authority.’

As an expert in positive psychology, I know that building and nurturing professional relationships also improves the quality of work and increases job satisfaction.

That’s why I decided to take my own advice and flip my mindset. I started by reminding myself that what I have to offer is valuable and that I would be helping raise awareness of the importance of psychological safety, positive leadership and wellbeing in the workplace.

Then I told myself that hardly anyone enjoys talking about themselves, but I wouldn’t improve my 60 second pitch if I didn't actually practise delivering it to other people (there’s only so much my cat will put up with). I also noted that people won’t think to employ me if they don’t know me, let alone like and trust me.

Instead of making it about me, I looked forward to the opportunity to learn from other business owners and professionals and find out what we had in common.

So, I signed up to - and attended! - a wide selection of local and national online and face-to-face networking events; ranging from Ladies Who Latte, to the Athena network, to BNI.

I focused on how I could help other people, whether it was through sharing experience, offering advice & support, providing referrals, or collaboration. I started out by thinking I didn’t have enough to offer, but discovered that not only did I know more than I thought, but that offering less tangible things like encouragement, interest and gratitude was just as important.

What I learned from this experience is that rather than promoting yourself, networking is actually about:

  • Supporting other people and their businesses

  • Building trust by creating genuine connections with people - achieved by following up with one-to-ones and finding out about the other person and their business

When you shift your mindset towards what you can give, what you can learn, what you have in common and on making meaningful connections, networking becomes easier and more enjoyable.

The currency of real networking is not greed, but generosity.

Keith Ferrazzi

Just a few weeks ago, I even tried out a speed networking session run by my local chamber of commerce at the Basingstoke Business Expo. It was fun, friendly and I enjoyed meeting so many new people.

Positive psychology teaches us that making meaningful connections is key to living a happy and fulfilled life. So get out there and give it a go. Try putting the above advice into practice and I bet you will enjoy it more than you expect.

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Author: Tamara Judge

Bio: Tamara is a positive psychology consultant, coach and the founder of Keystone Coaching. She is an accredited coach at Senior Practitioner Level with the EMCC, holds an MSc in Applied Positive Psychology & Coaching Psychology from the University of East London and is a qualified Mindfulness & Meditation Teacher.

She uses her expert knowledge in multidimensional positive psychology and education, to help educational and business organisations; improve wellbeing and reduce burnout; create a more positive culture; develop inspirational leaders & stronger teams; and improve engagement & performance. Tamara is passionate about raising the profile of wellbeing and empowering individuals & leaders to actively engage in & value opportunities for self-care.


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