Dislike Networking? Try This Tip!

Are you someone who dreads the idea of networking? The thought of engaging in small talk and mingling with strangers can be quite overwhelming. But fear not, networking doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Here’s a helpful strategy to navigate these uncomfortable situations:

Seek out fellow hesitant networkers. Remember, you’re not alone in feeling this way. When attending an in-person event, take a moment to observe your surroundings. Chances are, you’ll find someone standing alone or in a group but not actively participating in conversations. Approach them and strike up a conversation.

Transform networking into a game. If you’re an introvert, try adopting the persona of an extroverted character in a video game. Challenge yourself to earn points by initiating conversations with new people. It may sound a bit silly, but this imaginative approach can be surprisingly effective.

Discover shared interests. Instead of worrying about how to make small talk, focus on finding common ground with the person you’re conversing with. Prior to networking events, take some time to consider your own hobbies and interests, such as gardening, reading, or learning new technologies. This way, you can steer conversations toward topics you feel comfortable discussing.

Reframe your perception of networking. Networking doesn’t always mean meeting new people. Consider reaching out to friends from previous jobs or colleagues you’ve had limited contact with. Propose a low-pressure gathering, like meeting for coffee or scheduling a casual Zoom call. This allows you to connect with familiar faces and build relationships in a more relaxed setting.

By implementing these tips, you can redefine your networking experience and make it less intimidating. Remember, everyone has their own unique approach to networking, so find what works best for you.

How do you learn?

This is one of the most critical questions I ask in an interview. 

Of course, you want to bring in employees with impressive achievements and qualifications. Still, a person’s future performance will largely be determined by how intentionally and systematically they develop their skills. So let’s spend some time digging into the question of learning during the interview process.

Ask the candidate about something they’ve learned recently and how they could apply it to the role you’re considering them for.

Be open-minded about what counts as learning. It is one of the most critical parameters to emphasize the importance of learning. 

Build Learning into Team’s Culture…

How can you help your team learn in the flow of work? Here are three strategies to try. 

Build constructive feedback.

To start, build constructive feedback into your team’s regular workflows. Allot time in meeting agendas and project calendars to consider what worked well and what would make the process and outcomes even better. Proactively showing your team what they’re doing well will increase confidence and prompt people to continue stretching their potential. 

Normalise making mistakes.

Next, normalize making mistakes so employees fear them less and learn from them more. Encourage them to quickly share with someone else when they mess up, focusing on the question: What did you learn from that mistake? To model this behavior, you might start your monthly team meeting by sharing an insight you learned from a mistake you made. 

Encourage experimentation.

Finally, encourage experimentation. Show your team that you’re open to their pitches and willing to prototype and pilot good ideas. You might ask: What is one idea for improvement that would support you in achieving your objectives for this quarter? To make that idea happen, what would you need to start, stop, or change? And how could you test that idea quickly? Asking your employees to think outside the box will stoke learning and development on your team.

0 or Nothing…

There is a difference between a 0 or “Nothing”.

In “Nothing” you didn’t even try, the race doesn’t exist for you. Or you don’t exist. 

In “0” you were in the race, you but failed.

Mistaking one with another can be futile because in “Nothing” you don’t have any control, whereas in “0” you can control and win.

Be wise to choose what is “Nothing” and what is “0”, so that you can focus and give all your effort to “0”.

Build Your Emotional Courage…

In today’s environment, it’s imperative to handle things that make us feel uncomfortable. Maybe you have to say no to a noisy colleague or avoid going to a party with friends, or say no to a family friend. You may also need to raise a challenging issue with your manager or peer. 

To improve the way you deal with uncomfortable situations, build your emotional courage. Start by thinking of what kind of skill you want to get better at, giving feedback, listening, being direct — whatever you want to grow in. Then practice that skill in a low-risk situation. For example, let’s say you want to get better at being direct. The next time there’s a mistake on your phone bill, call customer service and practice being succinct and clear. Notice how you want to react — Get angry? Backpedal? — and focus on resisting those impulses. 

In summary, practice your emotions in low-risk situations and get used to them. These are the same feelings you’ll encounter in higher-risk situations at work, so learn to push through them. Continue to practice until you feel comfortable and can respond the way you’d like to.

It’s not information overload but filter failure…

In today’s world information overload complicates our learning process.

Learning no longer is a linear track but is a multi-track path with complex inflows of knowledge from a wide variety of sources. Also, it’s imperative that we learn at a much faster pace.

With all these, our brain has now an additional function to filter unnecessary and irrelevant information. And to unlearn/learn ensuring we keep the latest knowledge.

Filter and structure to the learning process are most critical, whether it’s thru a mentor, thru a structured course, or thru applying learning to a real-world scenario. 

So next time when you are learning, think about filters first and put structure in place to learn faster and deeper.