Networking has a stigma associated with It. When I hear that I should go to an event so I can “network” I imagine myself making painful small talk with strangers, or feeling worthless as the person talking to me keeps glancing around the room looking for someone more interesting to talk to than me. In fact, I remember events where I was the one desperately surveying the room looking for someone more interesting to talk with. People that know each other seem to gather together making it harder for a stranger to get involved; all together it reminds of the first day at a new school.
When networking is done well well the school analogy is very appropriate since good networking opportunities have an educational component to them. I have found my favorite networking meetings to have been educational programs that I have attended. It didn’t matter if they were one afternoon, a conference, or a multi-year curriculum, like the MBA I recently completed. I don’t have to stand nervously, furtively looking for a reason to belong in a crowd of strangers. I am there for the education and the networking is a benefit of attending the event.
Good networking features 5 key attributes that are hard to find elsewhere.
Opportunities through education
Knowledge opens up our worlds to opportunity. The more we know the more choices we have to try new things and explore ideas. Without education we don’t know what we are missing in the world, and what we are capable of doing.
Alternate point of views
A good education features ideas that challenge what we know. It gives us different points of views than the ones we have that frame our view of the world. Life is not black and white and ideas help us grapple with what is unknown and confusing to each of us. Opposing ideas gives us the tools and support to view the world differently and not fear that which is unknown.
Opportunities and ideas lead to inspiration. We know new things and want them. We see what we are capable of doing because of our ignorance is lessened and our world view is expanded.
The oldest friends I have are from school. Whenever I am with them, or think of them, our time together in school is nearby in my memories. It reminds me of the person I was before school and the person I became because of it.
Good friends are the people I can go to for advice. They know me, my values, my goals and will give me the unfiltered guidance I need. My friendships are immeasurable and valuable.
Education is powerful and transformative. It has features that are valuable on their own, and priceless together. The more we learn the more we appreciate what we don’t know. These attributes should be the goal of networking. Instead of fearing the social awkwardness of the event, consider networking an opportunity to grow as a person, and become a better veterinarian, or business owner.
Do you have a tip to help survive a networking event. Let us know if the comment section.