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How to Network without Being Fake or Weird

Published Thursday, October 24, 2019

Networking. Just the word alone is enough to bring visions of awkward handshakes and inescapable, uncomfortable conversations. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s cover some ways to take the fake, weird, and gross out of networking.

1. Pregame

Focus on what you have to offer instead of what others can do for you.

Part of what feels icky about networking is the focus on advancement. Shifting your focus to the ways you can give value, rather than what you want out of the relationship, can change your entire experience. Everyone needs something, so looking for where you can bring value to the person you are meeting is a way to change your perspective. 

2. Build relationships before you need them

Help them, connect them to others The best time to build a connection is before you actually need something. Take time to build professional relationships often. Then, later, when you are looking for help, you’ll have spent the time investing in your network. Create connection without the intention of asking for anything in the short term. 

3. Follow up! 

Follow up every now and then to see how they are, what’s new, and what might be on the horizon. You never know what interesting opportunities might pop up for you by popping up in your new connection’s inbox. 

Some final thoughts

“Do not approach networking with individuals you want to connect with feeling like they are the ONE chance to get the help you’re looking for, that they are your vehicle for success. They are not that powerful. YOU are that powerful, complete, and whole, and this is a conversation between equals.” - Kate Northrup, The Kate & Mike Show: Life, Love, and Business 

“When you give away your work by building the network, you’re not giving it away at all. You’re building trust, authority, and a positive cycle of better.” - Seth Godin, Seth’s Blog

“What I do know about networking is this: It is an essential and continuous activity. You control the effort - but not the outcome. Networking is everywhere.” - J Kelly Hoey, Build Your Dream Network Podcast 

We recommend picking up a copy of Build Your Dream Network by J Kelley Hoey from your local bookstore if you want to take a deep dive into building your professional network.

Fellow members:

Revisioning the concept of traditional work environments and moving to a collaborative space has been an amazing opportunity for our organization to remain engaged with our constituents and expand our connections in the community.

—Kitty Campbell

"MatchBOX is helping my company (One Fact) survive and prosper. The affordable space is only the start. It is the connection with the other co-coworkers that is proving helpful. MatchBOX gets a share of credit for any success One Fact sees in 2017!”

—Cortland Starrett

MatchBOX is where I met some of my newest best friends, Amanda, Emily, Matt, Ed, and sometimes Ryan. It's conveniently located near Kathy's candies and a bunch of places to get drinks during lunch. Could use a couple more Pokestops though.

<3 Austin Toombs

MatchBOX has provided an incredible opportunity for getting my work done, collaborating with others (at least 4 projects so far), hosting meetings for organizations I'm part of, and meeting other independent contractors in the area. The feel and ambience of the place just adds to the fabulous workplace -- not to mention the coffee and snacks! I have friends around the country who are jealous of our MatchBox space.

—Johanna Merritt Wu

My Enactus Purdue team got a tour of this studio recently. The environment is outstandingly innovative! Everyone there is incredibly friendly and hospitable and passionate about what they are doing. What a great place to see opportunity in the city of Lafayette!

—Acaimie Catron (from Facebook)

There is such a positive, creative vibe to this space. I participated in Lafayette Writers' Studio events and classes at MatchBOX fall, 2016. It is easy to access, convenient to downtown Lafayette and parking is not difficult in its area of town.

—Sandra B. (from Yelp)