Advertising
Advertising

7 Networking Tips You’ll Wish You Knew Earlier

7 Networking Tips You’ll Wish You Knew Earlier

You may not want to accept it, but in your chosen profession networking is an essential skill to help you achieve success. We’ve all heard the axiom that “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” but never has that been more true than in the digital age of pervasive connectedness in which we all find ourselves. So what can you do if you need to meet people but you aren’t a social butterfly? Use these 7 tips to make the most of your networking opportunities:

1. Engage Your Online Network

Meeting people at networking events is great but it is hard to stand out when there are so many eager young professionals in attendance. The best method you can use to stand out is to add the people you meet to your online network using sites like LinkedIn and then give them a reason to pay attention to you. Write articles and blog posts about your area of expertise and promote them on social media. Not only will this show your initiative, it’s a great way to demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about.

Advertising

2. Follow Up

Once you have met a few new people in your profession, be sure to nurture those relationships. Too many people go to networking events, meet people once and never speak to them again. Make a point of collecting business cards and get in the habit of touching base with people during the week following the event. If someone seems like a great resource with lots of experience, take them out for coffee and pick their brain. One-on-one time is a great way to learn more and to be remembered.

3. Go Outside Your Profession

If you are a plumber and you only ever talk to other plumbers, you probably won’t come across as many opportunities as if you had branched out a little. For example, maybe attend some events hosted by contractors who might be in need of a plumber. Likewise, if you are a writer, be on the lookout for events marketed at editors or publishers. Go to events that are just about things you are interested in, even if they do not directly relate to your career. The more people you meet with new perspectives and histories, the better your chances of learning something valuable. It could also work to your advantage if you turn out to be the only plumber at the contractors’ gala.

Advertising

4. Don’t Be Dismissive

When you meet a lot of new people at once it is tempting to start sorting them into the people who might be able to help you in your career and the people who probably can’t. Resist that urge. Don’t assume that someone won’t make a good contact just because their work doesn’t seem relevant to yours after a single meeting. Keep everyone’s business card and engage with all the people you meet via social media. With the aid of technology, there is no excuse for letting potentially valuable connections fall by the wayside.

5. Practice Your Elevator Speech

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you may eventually have to say something about yourself. The best way to handle this unspeakable burden is to be prepared. Have a few short sentences you can default to when someone asks you what you do or what you are working on. Experts call this sort of thing an elevator speech because it should only be long enough to share with another person as you ride an elevator from the first floor to the second.

Advertising

6. Plan the Event Yourself

It may seem like a daunting task and there will certainly be some extra work involved, but the lessons you will learn through organizing your own networking event will make it all worthwhile. In addition to expanding your network of contacts, organizing an event will give you a chance to demonstrate some of your tangible skills and your initiative. It doesn’t even have to be all that complicated, informal meet-and-greet events at pubs are a great way to get people together that don’t require a lot of planning.

7. Listen

Most importantly, don’t zone out when you are talking to other people. Part of being interested is actively listening to what people are saying to you. It also makes it a lot easier to carry your end of the conversation and to ask intelligent questions if you are paying attention to the words coming out of the other person’s mouth.

Advertising

Featured photo credit: Paul Fenwick via flickr.com

More by this author

8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know 10 Common Job Hunting Mistakes You Need to Avoid 8 Keys to Success from Jack Ma, Self-Made Billionaire and CEO of Alibaba This Is Why Recent Graduates Should Join a Start-Up 5 Fun Lessons to Help Make Your Kids Financially Independent

Trending in Work

1 5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do) 2 Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Overcome It) 3 How to Write a Letter of Recommendation (With Templates) 4 How to Mind Map to Visualize Ideas (With Mind Map Examples) 5 How to Write a Mission Statement That Empowers Your Employees

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Published on November 12, 2020

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

What’s the most draining, miserable job you’ve ever had? Maybe you had a supervisor with unrealistic demands about your work output and schedule. Or perhaps, you worked under a bullying boss who frequently lost his temper with you and your colleagues, creating a toxic work environment.

Chances are, though, your terrible job experience was more all-encompassing than a negative experience with just one person. That’s because, in general, toxicity at work breeds an entire culture. Research shows abusive behavior by leaders can and often quickly spread through an entire organization.[1]

Unfortunately, working in a toxic environment doesn’t just make it miserable to show up to the office (or a Zoom meeting). This type of culture can have lasting negative effects, taking a toll on mental and physical health and even affecting workers’ personal lives and relationships.[2]

While it’s often all-encompassing, toxic culture isn’t always as blatant or clear-cut as abuse. Some of the evidence is more subtle—but it still warrants concern and action.

Have a feeling that your workplace is a toxic environment? Here are 5 surefire signs to look for.

1. People Often Say (or Imply) “That’s Not My Job”

When I first launched my company, I had a very small team. And back then, we all wore a lot of hats, simply because we had to. My colleagues and I worked tirelessly together to build, troubleshoot, and market our product, and nobody complained (at least most of the time).

Advertising

Because we were all in it together, with the same shared vision in mind, cooperation mattered so much more than job titles. Unfortunately, it’s not always that way.

In some workplaces, people adhere to their job descriptions to a fault:

  • Need help with an accounting problem? Sorry, that’s not my job.
  • Oh, you spilled your coffee in the break room? Too bad, I’m working.
  • Can’t figure out the new software? Ask IT.

While everyone has their own skillset—and time is often at a premium—cooperation is important in any workplace. An “it’s not my job” attitude is a sign of a toxic environment because it’s inherently selfish. It implies “I only care about me and what I have to get done” and that people aren’t concerned about the collective good or overall vision.[3] That type of perspective is not only bound to drain individual relationships; it also drains overall morale and productivity.

2. There’s a Lack of Diversity

Diversity is a vital part of a healthy work environment. We need the opinions and ideas of people who don’t see the world like us to move ahead. So, when leaders don’t prioritize diversity—or worse, they actively avoid it—I’m always suspicious about their character and values.

Limiting your workforce to one type of person is bound to prevent organizations from growing healthily. But even if your work environment is diverse in general, the management might prevent diverse individuals from rising to leadership positions, which only misses the point of having a diverse work environment in the first place.

Look around you. Who’s in leadership at your company? Who gets promotions and rewards most often? If the same type of people gets ahead while other individuals consistently get left behind, you might be working in a toxic environment.

Advertising

However it manifests in your workplace, keep in mind that a lack of diversity is a tell-tale sign that “bias is rampant and the wrong things are valued.”[4]

3. Feedback Isn’t Allowed

Just as individual growth hinges on being open to criticism, an organization’s well-being depends on workers’ ability to air their concerns and ideas. If management actively stifles feedback from employees, you’re probably working in a toxic environment.

But that definitely doesn’t mean nobody will air their feelings. One of the telltale signs of toxic leadership is when employees vent on the sidelines, out of management’s earshot. When I worked in a toxic environment, coworkers would often complain about higher-ups and company policies during work in private chats or after work hours.

It’s normal to get frustrated at work. That’s just a part of having a job. What isn’t normal is when dissent isn’t a part of or discouraged in the workplace. A workplace culture that suppresses constructive feedback will not be successful in the long run. It’s a sign that leadership isn’t open to new ideas, and that they’re more concerned about their own well-being than the health of the organization as a whole.

4. Quantifiable Measures Take Priority

Sales numbers, timelines, bottom lines—these metrics are, of course, important signs of how things are going in any business. But great leaders know that true success isn’t always measurable or quantifiable. More meaningful factors like workplace satisfaction, teamwork, and personal growth all contribute to and sustain these metrics.

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and they shouldn’t be the only concern. Measure-taking should always take a backseat to meaning-making—working together to contribute to a vision that improves people’s lives. If your workplace zones in on quantifiable measures of success, it’s probably not prioritizing what truly matters. And it’s probably also instilling a fear of failure among employees, which paralyzes employees instead of motivating them.

Advertising

5. The Policies and Rules Are Inconsistent

Every organization has its own set of unique policies and procedures. But often, unhealthy workplaces have inconsistent, unspoken “rules” that apply differently to different people. When one person gets in trouble for the same type of behavior that promotes another person, workers will feel like management plays favorites—which isn’t just unethical but also a quick way to drain morale and fuel tension in the office.[5] It only shows how incompetent the leadership is and indicates a toxic workplace.

For example, maybe there’s no “set” rule about work hours, but your manager expects certain people or departments to show up at 8 am while other individuals tend to roll in at 9 or 10 am with no real consequences. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that your organization’s leadership is more concerned with controlling people and exerting power rather than the overall good of their employees.

How to Deal With a Toxic Work Environment

The first thing to know if you’re stuck in a toxic work environment is that you’re not stuck. While it’s ultimately the company’s responsibility to make positive changes that prevent harmful actions to employees, you also have an opportunity to speak up about your concerns—or, if necessary, depart the role altogether.

If you suspect that you’re working in a toxic environment, think about how you can advocate for yourself. Start by raising your grievances about the culture in an appropriate setting, like a scheduled, one-on-one meeting with your supervisor.

Can’t imagine sitting down with your supervisor to air those problems on your own? Form some solidarity with like-minded colleagues. Approaching management might feel less overwhelming when you have a “team” who shares your views.

It doesn’t have to be an overtly confrontational discussion. Do your best to frame your concerns in a positive way by sharing with your supervisor that you want to be more productive at work, but certain problems sometimes get in the way.

Advertising

Final Thoughts

If your supervisor truly cares about the well-being of the organization, they will take your concerns seriously and actively take part in changing the toxic work environment into something more conducive to productivity.

If not, then it might be time to consider the cost of the job on your well-being and personal life. Is it worth staying just for your resume’s sake? Or could you consider a “bridge” job that allows you to exhale for a bit, even if it doesn’t “move you ahead” the way you planned?

It might not be the ideal situation, but your mental health and well-being are too important to ignore. And when you have the opportunity to refuel, you’ll be a far more valuable asset at whatever amazing job you land next.

More Tips on Dealing With a Toxic Work Environment

Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next