Advertising
Advertising

How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

Networking has been around for a very long time. From the early days of the Royal Society in the late 1600s when gentlemen gathered together to share scientific discoveries and make connections with like-minded people, to today where people connect to advance careers and share knowledge and career advice. It has been a way for humans to learn, discover and advance for hundreds of years.

As with all forms of communication, there are many different ways to master the art. Here are a few alternative ways on how to network that can help you to advance your career and professional life.

1. Networking is about giving, not just receiving

The best networkers share their ideas and knowledge.

The mistake is to think of networking as a way to receive; when in reality, if you want to get the most out of networking, giving and sharing your knowledge will develop your spheres of influence and expand the number of people who will help you much faster.

Sharing your knowledge will also encourage people to introduce you to other, like-minded people and expand your network.

2. Become known as an expert in your field

One of the best ways to become better at networking is to become known as the expert in your field. To do this, you need to read, listen and learn everything you can about your area.

Advertising

This could be anything from knowing what trends are growing in your industry to understanding how new technologies such as blockchain and AI are affecting your business area.

When you become known as an expert in your field people will seek you out, rather than you having to seek people out and your network will grow organically.

3. Always have time for other people

In a world where we feel overwhelmed by work and commitments, it is hard to find the time for additional activities. But the best networkers always find the time to develop relationships, meet new people and exchange ideas and views.

You never know when you might meet a person who could give your career the boost it needs. So being open to meeting new people will expand your network, open up opportunities and could result in your next career opportunity.

If someone in your network suggests you meet with someone, make sure you take the time to meet that person and get to know them.

4. Write a blog, start a podcast or a YouTube channel

One of the best ways I have found to build a thriving network is to write a blog or create a podcast or YouTube channel.

Advertising

Often these activities are seen as a way to build a client base; yet over the years I have been writing, recording and producing content online, I have developed an amazing network of friends in my field from all over the world.

Many of those friends also produce content online and we have shared each other’s content and given tips, ideas and have opened doors for each other that would previously have remained closed.

5. Never burn your bridges

I learned this a long time ago.

You never know what your colleagues, clients and school friends will do in the future. No matter what you think of a person, remaining on good terms with them will help build a long and deep list of people you can go to for help in the future.

When you burn your bridges, not taking the time to reply their emails, messages or phone calls, you destroy connections that may in the future allow you to develop your career and knowledge base.

I’ve received tips and connections from some of my old school friends who are in the broadcasting industry, legal advice from former colleagues who are now partners in their own law firm, and referrals from some of my old drinking buddies.

Advertising

Remaining on good terms with former schools friends, colleagues and hometown friends has been a mine of helpful tips and advice.

6. See each new connection as an opportunity to share

Whether you are on a train or a flight and start a conversation with the person sitting next to you, or you are meeting new people at a conference, always see it as an opportunity to share rather than an opportunity to gain.

The best networkers not only know how to use their network, but they also understand that in order for their network to grow and remain effective, they need to be developing their connections regularly.

The fastest way to grow your network is to see each new introduction as a way to share something useful. When you share something useful with a new acquaintance, they are much more likely to help you in the future.

7. Use social media

Social media has revolutionized the way we communicate and in doing so, it has opened up opportunities that can allow us to build a global network of friends.

Get yourself involved in groups that are related to your field, ask and answer questions and get to know the people sharing ideas and tips.

Advertising

I know social media can destroy a productive day, a good way to do this is to set aside time each day to read through the groups you are a member of, and answer a question or pose a question yourself.

Being active in these social media groups gets you noticed and allows you to share your knowledge with other people. I have met numerous people through these groups who have introduced me to business opportunities that would otherwise have remained closed to me.

Bonus tip: Stay away from discussing religion and politics!

In the past, we shared business cards; today we give people our LinkedIn or Facebook names.

If you are posting your political views in these places, it will kill your network. No matter what your religious or political beliefs are, there will always be people who do not share those views. At a time when political and religious beliefs have become polarising, it is safer to stay away from these areas.

Be completely neutral on these topics and you will be safe. Offer an opinion on these topics and you will be dragged into a debate that could tarnish your networking opportunities for a very long time.

Final thoughts

Networking can be hard and time-consuming, but it can also open up opportunities to you that would otherwise remain closed off.

Maintaining an open mind to meeting new people, having a sharing mindset rather than a receiving mindset and becoming known as an expert in your field will bring benefits to you. And that will help you grow your career and influence over time.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

More by this author

Carl Pullein

Dedicated to helping people to achieve their maximum potential through better time management and productivity.

How 30 Minutes of Daily “Me Time” Improves Your Productivity Why You Need to Set Future Goals (And How to Reach Them) How to Use Deep Work to Wipe out Distractions And Boost Productivity 7 Ways Minimalist Living Improves Your Productivity What Is a Bullet Journal and What Are the Benefits?

Trending in Smartcut

1 Procrastination Is a Matter of Emotion, Here’s How to Stop It 2 What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide) 3 What Is Creative Thinking and Why Is It Important? 4 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track in 2020 5 24 Best To-Do List Apps to Keep You on Track in 2020

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

Advertising

1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

Advertising

If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

Advertising

6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

Advertising

In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

Read Next