Let’s talk about the purpose of networking. As an introvert, I would like to confess that it is one of the most draining things we do in social settings. That’s why I prefer getting to know people in different ways or spending my entire evening talking to one interesting human rather than 10 people I will never see again.
In my opinion, a connection is something fundamentally deeper than networking, as connecting with others is crucial to our well-being and overall happiness! Today I want to talk about how connecting has helped change one aspect of my life.
I’m 22 and I have just started working full-time as an events assistant at generationYOU; with some of the most interesting and incredible people in Brisbane! Before I started my role at genYOU, I was working with the Leadership Development & Innovation team at QUT and felt like I was living the dream! I didn’t get here through job applications or interviews … I got both of those opportunities through simply connecting with people.
Despite valuing the subject of connection so much, I’m pretty far from mastering the skill of making connections all the time. While I was researching ‘human connections’ I noticed a pattern: connecting with people is not an easy process and for some people it requires a lot of effort and investment – I am one of these people.
So why is connecting with others so important, and is it a true purpose of networking? Well, despite getting yourself some awesome opportunities, you also get to know the stories of some great people who will no doubt have an impact on your life.
I know some exceptionally amazing people and I only regret not getting to connect with absolutely all of them. Mind you, all people are amazing if you get to know them, so please don’t be selective with people you meet as you will be surprised when you hear their story!
So what’s my secret to making genuine connections? Well, I let me be your master Yoda for a minute…
> When I get to know someone new I try to find out something awesome about them and talk about that. Everyone likes talking about themselves, so let them!
> I also like following up the conversation with an email where I put some notes from the conversation I valued the most.
> Genuine interest to connect is a key though, so don’t forget to actually LISTEN to what the person in front of you is saying
Despite feeling like you may not be connecting with someone as soon as you meet them … if you let your vulnerability show and genuinely put yourself out there – you may find them also opening up! I once tried to connect to a homeless person on the street and I had to push my ego and fear of vulnerability aside to make a step toward connecting with her. How much effort will it take to connect to someone not from your everyday life?
Next time you have the opportunity to meet someone brand new people, take a moment to genuinely listen to what they’re saying, what story they’re sharing with you… and you may be surprised at how much value they will add to your life!
Need some more inspiration? Here are some TED Talks where the speakers agree that it takes some courage to make connections:
> Brene Brown talks a lot about investing yourself into the connection with someone without any expectations, giving it all and showing your vulnerability.
> Dan Foxx also mentions ego in his talk. He emphasizes how ego sometimes stops us from focusing and opening up to others.
> Brian Miller has a good trick – as a magician, he finds it important to understand someone’s emotional perspective by asking questions and listening to understand. We always underestimate the willingness people have when it comes to sharing their story.
Our generationYOU one-day events are coming up in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide. If you are looking for guidance on your career journey, advice on a range of career topics from industry leaders and the opportunity to connect with like-minded peers – then we want you to join us!