Professional Networking Misconceptions

“Networking is a verb. You build a network by actively networking.” - Unknown

When it comes to professional networking, people often have a variety of reactions, assumptions, and perceptions. Whether you have been networking for many years, or are just starting out, you have likely heard and uncovered a plethora of misconceptions. Today, we want to highlight some common ones, and shed some light on this important facet of your business success. 

Misconception 1: More is better 

In many instances, people think that quantity is more important than quality. However, that is not the case! You can have hundreds of connections who offer zero value. Therefore, in relation to professional networking, it is essential to create quality connections, even if that means having less. Building meaningful relationships, that are based on mutual respect and understanding is more beneficial than having a large network that you can’t utilize. 

Misconception 2: It’s only for extroverts 

This is a very common misconception! However, you shouldn’t be surprised that introverts are successful networkers as well. Extroverts likely find it easier to initiate conversations and are more natural in inserting themselves into events. On the other hand, introverts are often more successful at focusing on deeper one on one interactions, active listening, and utilising their innate ability to observe and absorb information. 

Misconception 3: You need to self promote all of the time 

A common mistake many people make when it comes to networking is focusing on themselves, and what others can do for them. However, effective networking involves creating a balance between promoting yourself, while also taking a genuine interest in others. Ask yourself what you can do for others, rather than the other way around. In establishing trust and mutual beneficial exchanges with others, you build relationships where people value and respect you enough to refer clients and do business with you.  

Misconception 4: It’s a one-time effort 

Networking is most definitely not a one and done situation. Successful networking takes time and effort to establish valuable connections. Consistency is key, and it is important to remember that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Attending one networking event, and never doing another or failing to foster the connections you made, won’t add value to you or your business.  

Networking isn’t something you only do when you need something. It’s about nourishing and prioritizing your relationships on a regular basis, over an extended amount of time. 

Misconception 5: You only network in person 

While there are many advantages of networking in person, it isn’t the only way to do so! In today’s digital age, you would be at a disadvantage by not utilizing the power of social media to grow your connections. LinkedIn is a valuable professional networking platform that allows you to connect with people from all over the world. However, it’s important to remember that these interactions should be treated like those you would make in person. Don’t randomly send out messages or requests to hundreds of people, just to see your follower count grow. Cultivate online relationships with sincerity and seek out ways that you can offer your expertise. 

Misconception 6: Only network with people in your industry 

One of the greatest advantages of being a member of BNI is the opportunity to network with people from a variety of different industries. This helps broaden your knowledge about other sectors, while also giving you the unique advantage of unexpected business ventures.  

People from different industries offer diverse perspectives, expertise, and insights that you might not otherwise have access to. Embrace networking with a plethora of people outside of your industry; you will be glad you did. 

Effective networking is about building relationships that are based on trust, mutual respect, and a genuine interest in helping others succeed. Be consistent and stay the course to foster connections that benefit your professional growth and overall success. 

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