No, not the networking you immediately thought of👀
I meant the human kind of networking: getting out of your comfort zone as an introvert, and making conscious efforts towards building your network of mutually beneficial relationships.
I’ll be honest: I suck at building a solid network on platforms like Linkedln.
In this post, I get down with details on some of the ways I struggle with networking, and things I did this week to bring myself one step closer to mastering the art!
My Struggles With Networking
On one hand, I am always eager to share my thoughts with others but on the other hand, I am socially awkward (at first!).
So, it has always been a struggle trying to create long-lasting connections on LinkedIn that don’t end after a single conversation thread. This is not because there are no common interests, but I find it hard to keep the conversation going.
Always trying to find the "right" words, never knowing whether it’s ideal enough to speak casually or it strictly has to be related to work.
Physical conversations are easier because one can read the other person's body language, and you can always talk about something random. However, I find it soo awkward when you run out of things to say and there is that “pause”! 😅
These are just some of the thoughts I have when trying to network, and I cannot be the only one with these experiences.
How I Am Dealing With It
This week alone, I have:
had a Zoom call with a career coach I interacted with on LinkedIn (and I shared some of these struggles!),
genuinely reached out to some of my connections also on LinkedIn (either casually, or career-related),
indicated interest in participating on an open-source cloud project by a mutual on Cloudstagram,
had conversations with more of my colleagues (I am currently enrolled in a MSc program),
engaged(tried to!) with my lecturers in the F2F sessions, etc.
And the list goes on and on.
Some Tips I Learnt
From my brief conversation with Mohammed, I was able to pick some very useful tips to try when trying to network.
1) Be Proactive and Intentional
I know it sounds trivial but when I say it took someone else saying it before I fully realised its importance, it really did.
I had been sending plain connection requests to people I discovered with engineering roles in the cloud, but only occasionally attaching a note and sending messages to those I successfully connected with.
This tip made me realise I had to be more intentional. Every connection request I send matters, and attaching a genuine note makes it intentional.
I may not always be able to build a relationship with everyone I message, but at least I can ensure my interest in their profiles are properly conveyed.
2) Be Human
As humans, there is something about putting a face to a name that builds a connection, and that is apparently very key in networking.
At the end of the day, it will always be more memorable when you see who you are interacting with. Like I said earlier, I can be socially awkward when conversing with people for the first time, and this tip reminded me that I needed to get comfortable with it.
Interviews will always be a part of any hiring process, and as someone who recently moved to the UK, I need to work on my interviewing and physical conversation skills.
It might be uncomfortable and awkward at first, but again, practice helps with improvement. I want to commit to doing it regardless because I know my abilities and how I can contribute greatly to a team.
I just need to be able to confidently convey that knowledge to others.
So, I requested/scheduled meetings with some of my connections and I look forward to speaking with them soon! I also plan to create a schedule where I request and book one call per week and have conversations about anything!
If you’d like to connect and have a chat, do say hello on LinkedIn!
All of these aside, I also have tons of coursework to catch up with. Normally, this would overwhelm me and it probably still will, but right now, I feel pretty good!
You can tell that I had a pretty busy week but I was very engaged in what I was doing, and it makes me happy that I achieved these “milestones”.
I hope sharing my progress and also the tips I received can also help someone else out there.
We got this!