Debunking myths about networking

With a solid network we can stay informed, learn new things, be more innovative, finetune and flesh out our best ideas and get things done more quickly. So why do so many people still view networking negatively?

Myth 1: It’s a waste of my time

Networking is not a magic word that opens a secret door and leads your career or start-up to the promised land (and neither is LinkedIn a magic portal). But it’s definitely not a waste of time (and neither is LinkedIn). To network effectively, online and offline, consider your purpose, devise a strategy, research, prepare. Who do you want to meet? What are you hoping to achieve? What are the leading networking events in your area? Even if you’re uncertain of your goals, networking can help. Meeting new people can be inspirational and help us figure out how we can advance our careers or shape our nascent business plans.

Myth 2: It’s geared toward extroverts

Another misconception is that networking favours extroverts. But who says the loudest in the room will get the most out of an event? If you see yourself as an introvert, you can still be quietly and effectively expanding your network and build relationships in your own individual way. Remember that it’s not just about attending networking events. As an expat, you can build your network by attending various community events.

Myth 3: Networks grow organically

Well, this is true. They do grow organically. But that’s the risk. Left to our own devices, we tend to seek out like-minded individuals or form networks with whomever we meet most regularly. This can result in a homogeneous network – or even a clique. So don’t stay in your bubble. Branch out. A more diverse network will inspire more innovation of thought and help you avoid stagnation.

Myth 4: It’s a means to an end

Another misconception is that networking is a means to an end. But there’s no end point (or shouldn’t be). You don’t stop once you land a job or launch your start-up. Careers and businesses evolve – not to mention job markets and business concepts. It’s important to keep up to speed with what’s happening and networking is a wonderful way to do that. You want to continually meet valuable new contacts, gain new perspectives and build relationships that help you move forward and achieve your goals.

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