Does the word ‘networking’ put you in a mild state of panic? Some people thrive in a packed room filled with new people to meet; while others would rather get a root canal without Novocaine than attend a networking event. If you’re anything like the latter, Karen Wickre’s book “Taking the Work out of Networking” will feel like it was written just for you.
A self-proclaimed introvert, Karen Wickre has mastered the art of what she called ‘keeping in loose touch’ for the benefit of creating a strong career-oriented network. Her unique insights as an early employee at Google, and later a senior content editor at Twitter, has amassed her a large and impressive personal and professional network. But for someone who seems to know everybody in Silicon Valley, it may be surprising to learn that Karen is most comfortable alone with her thought, and less so in the networking circuit.
Taking the Work out of Networking serves as a helpful guide to navigating networking events and work social gatherings with grace. Here are our 6 favorite takeaways from the book:
1. The power of introverts:
Introverts often have unique personality traits like being great listeners, keen observers and a natural curiosity. This often makes them easy to talk to, and surprisingly good networkers. If you tend to gravitate towards introversion, Karen suggests putting these qualities to work at your next networking event, and you might be surprised by how easy it is to get a more extroverted counterpart to open up to you.
2. On feeling like you don’t fit in:
Most people inherently feel like they don’t fit in – it may just be that introverts are more open about it. If you approach conversations with this mindset, you may have an easier time speaking to people at face value.
3. Keep in loose touch:
We love Karen’s concept of ‘keeping in loose touch’. Keeping in loose touch is the process of checking in on your important contacts every so often to build a relationship with them. Years ago, Karen noted that she would maintain this habit of keeping in touch by way of a daily post-it that she kept on her address book with the names of people she wanted to reach out to in a given day. People who she couldn’t reach would move on to the following day’s post-it. Today, she could easily substitute this practice by setting reminders on a personal CRM like UpHabit. Any contacts that weren’t reachable could be snooze for the next day – or week – or month. The process of keeping in loose touch works best when you reach out to people when you don’t specifically need something them. This will establish an ongoing connection and build a relationship for when (or if) you do need a favor in the future.
4. Networking doesn’t have to be face-to-face:
There’s a reason why they call it a social network. Your Facebook friend list, or even your email address book can contain a holy grail of people outside of your inner circle, who may ultimately be the key to getting your foot in the door you had your eye on. Karen has a whole chapter in her book dedicated to how to best use each social platform. She even jots valuable tips for how to break the ice with someone over an online platform.
5. Be open to giving and receiving:
If asking an acquaintance for a favor seems off-putting to you, ask yourself: how would you react if someone asked the same of you? Odds are, you’d be open to lend an ear, connect a person in need with a suitable contact, or join a like-minded peer in a brainstorming session for their latest venture. If you’d be so willing to collaborate with someone and share your experiences, why wouldn’t they? So go on, and put yourself out there – you never know what may come out of it.
6. It all starts with building better relationships:
In closing – one of our favorite lines of the book the following: “A network doesn’t appear all at once. Meeting and adding contacts is organic, and slow. It takes steady work. You can see why it helps to make a daily (or at least very consistent) habit of sending out a few messages, greetings, and forwarded stories, jokes, and so on.” Creating the habit of keeping in touch with both close friends and acquaintances helps create a tighter network that can ultimately help the personal and career growth of everyone involved. It’s easy to keep track of people you’d like to maintain a better connection with. Sometimes, all it takes is the little help of a personal CRM like UpHabit to keep you accountable.
Karen’s Wickre’s Taking the Work out of Networking is available on Amazon.
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