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7 Habits You Should Ditch for Better Networking

7 Habits You Should Ditch for Better Networking
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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 July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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