Stop being anti-social. I get it, people suck a lot of the time, and you might be to the point where you say “It’s just easier to avoid people all together” or “I’d rather stay home than mingle with people I don’t really care about”. While this may seem like the cool edgy thing to say, this same mentality will put you at a disadvantage in the future.
Being an outgoing person most of my life, I’ve found that networking with people comes easier for me than others, and I have also taken note of the side effects of both personality types and I can say with full confidence that I’m happy with my natural social disposition.
For some, being social doesn’t come easy, and that’s OK, but I think it’s less of a lack of personality/skill and more of a lack of understanding of why being social is important. Some people will see making an effort to be more social as “trying to be popular” or “waste of my time when I could be doing what I really want to do”, when they really just have no real motivation to do so. Let this article be your motivation.
Have you ever been with a friend or family member when a situation comes up or someone asks “I wish I could get some firewood right now, but I don’t know anybody who has any.”, then one of your friends, or that weird Uncle, says “I got a firewood guy” and proceeds to call them and solve the problem. Simple instances like this one are one of the many reasons why networking is important.
Another reason to get out there and meet more people is how it opens doors for your potential future. It’s not hard to understand how the more people you meet, the more experiences you’ll have, and the more opportunities that will be made available to you. You can’t possibly expect to win the lottery and never buy a ticket.
I can imagine some of you introverts are thinking “Well I’m not one to “be fake” just so I can get hooked up with things here or there”, but that’s not the point of being more social. Anything you are not used to doing often is going to feel strange at the beginning, but over time you’ll find you can be just as real as you ever were with minimal effort on your part and maybe even start to enjoy it.
Another motivation is that you don’t end up like the crazy cat lady or the weird old guy who lives down the street that nobody knows and or trusts because you didn’t develop enough personal and or professional relationships earlier in your life.
Below are some ways I think you can start being more social and pump up your networking game to give future you more options than you have now:
Methods to help you socially network:
- Say yes to the invitations you get
- I know, I know.. it would seem staying home would be the better of the two options when invited to go out to a function or a party, but you never know who you might meet or what unknown doors you might open if you do go. Take the chance and you might not regret it.
- Make an effort to reach out to old acquaintances and family
- Staying in touch with people you’ve already met is key, not only for their perception of you when you might need something they have access to, but also to be viewed as a “valuable resource” to people in your life.
- Go through your apps or old messages and ping the people you haven’t spoken to in a while. Sometimes just a simple “Hey how’s it going” is enough to start a conversation and then you can blow them away when you’re not just reaching out to ask something of them.
- Make an effort when you’re already in a social situation
- We’ve all been to a function or event and all you can think about is when you’ll have the opportunity to leave, but you can easily turn these seemingly negative situations into positive ones by forcing yourself to meet with or talk to specific people that would help future you out. Yes it requires a little effort, but anything worth doing is worth doing right.
- You can even make it a game in your head to talk to at least 5 people or to get just one phone number or make plans with somebody for a future get together. No matter how you go about it, someone is bound to take notice that you are not just a lump on a log and may have some value to them in one way or another.
- Be genuinely you
- Most of us can tell when a person is being fake and it’s always off putting, so don’t be that person. It’s ok if you don’t become best friends with everyone you meet so just be yourself. When you’re networking the goal isn’t to like 100% of every person out there, it could just be the 20% of a person that you get along with and it’s ok to enjoy them only for that 20% and that number could improve over time.
- Don’t be a flake
- This is my final and probably most important aspect of being social. People hate, and I mean HATE, a person who makes plans and cancels at the last minute. You may think your excuse of “My kid is sick” or “I had an emergency pop up” is going to cut it, but they know you’re just being a flake and they will be less apt to make plans with you in the future.
- Part of social networking is also building your own personal brand/reputation and being a flake does no good for it.
Making simple changes to your social behavior can have extremely beneficial outcomes ranging from new job opportunities, new friendships or even finding the love of your life, but none of these doors will be open to you unless you put in the effort. People can be terrible sometimes, but we can also be amazing and you are one of them, so be the best version of you that you can be.