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7 Habits You Should Ditch for Better Networking

7 Habits You Should Ditch for Better Networking

Networking is one of the key components to getting a job, keeping your job, and moving along your career path. It’s a vital part of your career development, no matter what stage of your career you’ve reached. Bad habits can derail your networks and take you off track. Here are 7 habits you should ditch for better networking.

1. The temptation to network only with people like you.

The goal of networking is to meet new people who may open new opportunities. Always look for ways to network with people who think differently, who have different jobs, or have different skill sets. And don’t feel like it’s beneath you to network with those younger or inexperienced. You may find your next intern, or even the next Mark Zuckerberg. Try going into events with an open mind and find something interesting from each conversation. You’ll find that you’ll have a much more robust network when you go outside your comfort zone and meet people who you may not interact with on a daily basis.

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2. The excuses.

I’m too tired. I’m too busy. I don’t know what to say. It’s too late. These are all excuses that can derail your networking strategy. Rather than making excuses, find strategies to overcome them. When you prioritize growing your professional network, you’ll find the time and energy to do it right. Make a plan, find the times and groups, and plan ahead with topics of interest. You’ll meet more people and be much more successful with your networking efforts when you leave the excuses out of your strategy.

3. The bad attitude.

Networking can be hard. It’s easy to have a negative attitude about the process if you go in with the wrong intentions. Check your attitude at the door and find the good in each encounter you make. By staying positive and keeping your ego in check, you’ll find many more opportunities that are valuable than you might think.

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4. Your shyness.

Some people are more shy than others, and networking can be very difficult if you get nervous around people. With that in mind, networking events are oftentimes most useful for more introverted people. It’s an opportunity where it’s socially acceptable (and even encouraged) to walk up to strangers and talk to them. Jump out of your comfort zone and start a conversation. Practice makes perfect.

5. The urge to ask for more than you receive.

Too often people expect something from those they network with. Whether it’s help, knowledge, funding, recommendations, or advice, those that get the most out of their networking connections are the ones who give the most. Help others first, and you could receive much more in return. Find things you are good at and offer them to the community. You will find that when you have needs, people will jump through hoops to help you when you’ve opened doors for them.

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6. The internet-only approach.

LinkedIn is a great tool, but it can become a crutch. Attend events, take part in conferences, and spend time on your craft outside of work. You’ll find that a connection forged with a handshake is going to hold up much more than one based solely online. Use tools like LinkedIn to keep up with your network, but never forget that the best way will always be in person.

7. The bad communication.

Answer your emails. Follow-up on voicemails. And don’t skip the small talk. In a world of technology where the personal touch is easily lost, being diligent about how you communicate is vital. There are few things more impressive when networking than being accessible and responsive. You will make a name for yourself as someone who is dependable, and you’ll get the most out of your networking opportunities.

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Building a great network can take time and hard work, but the benefits are staggering. Don’t let bad habits keep you from reaching your potential and souring your hard work. Ditch the bad habits and be a networking superstar.

Featured photo credit: Kai Nicolas Schaper via flickr.com

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Kyle Robbins

Kyle is the founder of Branding Beard. He writes about communication tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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