Network or no-work

Uncategorized Jan 31, 2022


Its a word that means many things to many people. 

For many it brings to mind rooms full of people you don't really know, the awkwardness of introducing yourself and the fear of standing on the edge of the room alone feeling scared. That's before you get to the question of how, if you do get into a conversation, you can extricate yourself without feeling rude. 

Others think, especially since their experience during the pandemic, of seeing themselves amongst screens full of strangers and having to introduce themselves with all eyes on them.

Still more will immediately think of LinkedIn, our primary source of career networking. It was originally created as, and still primarily is, a place to build and nurture your network. But for many people there is an element of fear about putting yourself out there, and feeling uncomfortable at the thought of reaching out to people. Especially if you feel like you're asking for something. 

Just say "Hello!"

A colleague used to sum it up perfectly, and its still the most accessible start point in my mind: networking is just about saying "hello". 

Once you've introduced yourself and met someone, they're in your network. Some pass through and we may never see or be in contact with them again. Others remain a part of our network for ever, some to become a close and regular contact, even a friend, and some to remain as acquaintances. 

Busting the myths

1. I don't have a network

Yes you do. You just don't realise it.

Think of it like this: everyone you know is part of your network. Family, friends, friends of friends, the person who cuts your hair/services your car/sells you a paper. Then there's everyone you are connected to online. On LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all the other sites you belong to and groups you are part of. 

2. Its bad to ask for help / you shouldn't ask for help

This is a belief that a lot of people have grown up with and it's just plain wrong. Knowing when to ask for help is a strength and your network will generally be pleased to help. 

3. I don't want to bother people

Similar to point 2, but subtly different. This is an objection I often hear from people when we talk about reaching out to their network as they gather information about possible career options and even particular organisations. "Why would they want to speak to me", they say, especially if its someone they don't know or haven't been in touch with for a few years. 

Its interesting, because when I turn it around and ask people what they'd do if someone asked them to spare 10 minutes to, lets say, talk about what its like working in their industry or organisation, most of them say they'd be delighted and it would make them feel good. 

So the bottom line is, stop being a hypocrite and ask - you might just make someone's day by making them feel valued. 


So what do you think about networking now? It can be useful to you in growing your current role and also when you're going to the job market. Did you know that in the UK alone around 50% of jobs go directly through or with the help of networking (some would say more). 


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