There are a lot of excuses to not network (seemingly). I have included some of my favourite’s that I have heard below and my counter-points.
1. I have no time!
My friend Gayle from Work the Pond coined this well – it’s not finding the time, it’s making the time! What’s the difference? Making the time implies that it is worthwhile to network—there’s a good reason for it. If you believe that there is value in networking you’ll find the time. Are you still a doubting Thomas, read a little further here.
2. No budget
This is a tough one – and often you have to be proactive about this with your employer. Professional development opportunities are very important for your growth within your organization. Most progressive companies will contribute approx. 4% of your annual salary to networking/pro-d/education.If you do not currently have that, at least try and negotiate $500 a year to be able to attend meetings and conferences (at the least!) When you are negotiating the terms of your next job – be sure to include budget for professional development.
Volunteer! If you can’t afford to go but want to be in the room – volunteer for the event. I have done this a ton of times and often it is even more beneficial than just attending. Reach out and help! I promise, it will come back to benefit you.
3. I love my job, why would I network?
I have heard this a lot, and sadly I did have a bit of this attitude when I was very young in my career (god I was naive!) The benefits of networking are vast – and it isn’t just to get a new job so stop thinking that! BUT there is a side benefit from connecting with a lot of different people AND you never know where you are going to be five years from now so don’t use this excuse.
4. Ugh I hate schmoozing…
I hate schmoozing too! I don’t schmooze! I genuinly care about meeting people and I hope you do too, because that is when you will truly benefit from networking. BE REAL and don’t schmooze. But yes, I do understand this can be difficult. I am extroverted by nature so it does come natural to me to want to talk to and meet people. Start small. Talk to the person on your left and right and wait for people (like me) to connect you with others.
5. I don’t know which events to go to
Sometimes you have to just try some events out. You will quickly figure out the ones you like, the crowds you are attracted to, the ones that have the best speakers and the ones that don’t. I have my favourites, but for the most part, I usually attend the ones with the speaker of most interest to me. I am all about personal growth and professional development.