The Powerful Mindset Shift You Need to Know for Networking

You already know the benefits of networking to your career, yet, you may still be reluctant to put yourself in those situations. You likely envision awkward conversations about the weather (at worst) or what your job is (at best). But what if you reframe what networking means? This is a tip that has worked for me and I encourage you to try, too.

Change how you think about networking from: “What can I get from others?” to “What can I give others?”

If you shift your mindset, you will find more comfort and greater success in your networking interactions, whether at an industry conference or informational interview. Here is how to implement this for your next conversation:

1.     Listen With Purpose

If you have a one-on-one conversation with an industry leader, know that you are getting the gift of her time, which is often the most precious resource she has. Show her that you respect her expertise by actively listening and asking thoughtful follow up questions that build on what she said.

If you are networking at a conference cocktail hour, don’t be that person looking for the most popular attendee to speak to. There is something to learn from every interaction. To help make the conversation productive and enjoyable, listen with purpose—what can I learn from this?

2.     Ask “What is Your Dream?”

I learned this question from my friend, Lisa Rogoff, who is the founder of Launch Project, an executive coaching and consulting firm. I instantly connected with the concept of asking others about their personal goals, and have successfully used it in coffee chats and at cocktail parties. It reveals more than you expect, and creates a deeper connection with someone.

3.     Offer Help

Don’t underestimate your ability to be helpful at any level, even to someone more senior than you. Maybe you know exactly the person who can help launch that dream website or has specialized skills needed at the company or can take them skydiving.  

Even if you can’t be directly helpful, you are supporting something that is important to him just by listening. Then say “thank you,” because recognition is a form of offering help and kindness.

When you have the mindset to serve others while networking, it takes the focus off you. It’s rewarding to help people feel listened to—or achieve their dreams. You might even find yourself looking forward to your upcoming conference. Added bonus, when you put all this goodness into the world, it comes back to you in the future.