“Redefine ‘networking.’ You are not ‘networking.’ You are connecting – sharing your knowledge, resources, time, energy, friends, associates, empathy and compassion in a continual effort to provide value to others”

–  Keith Ferrazzi

60-70% of job vacancies are filled via networks and referrals.

80% of all career changers find jobs in their new professions via a referral (and not through recruiters or job sites).

90% of freelancers and start-ups find their first client via their network of contacts.

100% of the above stats are hearsay and not scientifically proven. But we know they’re fairly accurate based on what I’ve seen in the market.

Yet most of the people reading this find networking uncomfortable and avoid it as much as they can.

Here are 5 networking myths that need to be dispelled in order for you to re-frame the whole concept of networking.

1. “Networking means going to various events and talking to strangers.”

No it doesn’t.

Attending a “networking event” is just ONE WAY of networking. Networking is about relationship building and connecting.

There are all sorts of ways to build and cultivate relationships:
• One to one coffee or lunch with your ex-boss, ex-colleagues or clients.
• Attending a school event with parents of kids that attend the same school as your children.
• Participating in online forums within your profession or university alumni groups.
• Socializing with friends at your golf club, yoga class or gym.
• Chatting with other members of the congregation at your church or temple.
2. “Networking means asking for help and contacts. I’m not really comfortable with that.”

Many people think networking is about trying to “get stuff” – leads, contacts or help.

But as the author Keith Ferrazzi says, “The currency of networking is generosity.”

The essence of being part of any network or relationship is what you contribute – not what you gain. So instead of focusing on what you can “get” – focus on what you can give. How you can help others?

Could you….
• Write a genuine, personalized LinkedIn recommendation for a contact without requesting one in return?
• Offer to connect two people in your network that could possibly help each other?
• Refer a potential client to a contact of yours?
• Share a resource, tool or a shoulder to lean on?
Okay – networking is about being helpful and valuable to your network, but, it’s also about asking for help too. And that’s where we come to a third myth.

3. “Networking means asking for help from people I don’t know.”

Well that’s what some people do. But asking people who you don’t know for favors is often inappropriate and usually ineffective (unless you’ve been introduced by a mutual contact).

That’s why you should avoid asking new contacts for help without a mutual connection. Instead, focus on asking warm contacts for help first – people that know and trust you. Ex-colleagues, existing clients, friends and family are much more likely to help you than someone who you met briefly or just connected with online.

4. “Yes, but my network doesn’t really know many people.”

How do you know that?!

We now live in the most connected era in history. By virtue of technology and ease of travel – we know far more people than our parents and grandparents ever did.

Never assume that your friends, family or colleagues haven’t the contacts you need. You don’t know who they play golf with, who their children go to school with, who they share a hairdresser with or who they’re connected to on LinkedIn or Facebook.

And never make the mistake that thinking your friend that’s a stay at home mum or your retired father don’t know people that could help you.

We are all connected to people and unless you engage and educate people on what you want, you’ll never know how they can help.

5.”My professional and personal network already know what kind of contacts I’m looking for.”
Really? Are you sure?

Your professional contacts may know, but how many other things do they have on their mind? Are they really going to remember the kinds of contacts you want for your next career move or business venture?

And I bet most of your friends and family don’t really understand what kind of people you’re looking to connect with.  They could meet your ideal contact at a wedding this weekend or reconnect with an old friend on Facebook that’s in the exact company you’re targeting. But they won’t think to introduce you as you’ve not really explained well what kind of people you’re looking to connect with.

So ensure you educate your warm contact about your current plans and who your ideal contacts are for your next career move or business venture.

And then ensure you’re on their radar so that they don’t forget about you