When it comes to moving your career forward, networking has been touted as the primary must-do. While networking is certainly helpful, many people struggle with the concept, feeling that the blatant pursuit of professional contacts is somewhat inauthentic. However, trying to navigate a career path without a strong sounding board or support can be a challenge. Plus, it means missing out on opportunities that may only be shared through the relationships.
But, networking isn’t the only approach for creating these relationships. If networking has you flustered, try building a community instead.
Why a Community?
On the surface, networking and community building seem very similar. After all, they are both about crafting connections with other professionals. However, there is a fundamental difference between the two: the approach.
Some consider networking disingenuous, largely because some professionals use their connections solely as a means of getting ahead. But, when you focus on creating a community, the intent is to build lasting, meaningful relationships, regardless of whether every connection can benefit a person’s career.
Additionally, community building is a long-term pursuit, not just a way to find a new job or get a question answered. Ultimately, community building involves a different mentality, and it may be one that is easier for some people to adopt.
How to Start Community Building
Even if community building feels like a more natural option, that doesn’t mean many people know how to begin. However, it isn’t as complicated as it may appear.
Usually, the best way to see if someone would fit into the community you are trying to craft is not to approach them as a potential professional contact, but as a person who could become your friend. This method automatically lowers some of the pressure associated with crafting the relationship, as you aren’t looking to connect with the person solely for career-related gain. Plus, it allows you to focus on it being meaningful and not just beneficial to your professional goals.
One of the easiest ways to connect with another person is to identify areas of common ground. Typically, like-minded individuals will bond more quickly, and having similar interests that you can discuss and share can support this approach, effectively acting as a springboard for a long-term connection.
You also want to have a giving attitude when you reach out to new potential connections. In most cases, a relationship stands the test of time because it is inherently give-and-take, so approaching someone with a giving mindset allows you to begin working towards that balance by extending yourself first, as people may be more receptive if you adopt a mindset of generosity.
In the end, community building is similar to pursuing friendships, and that can make it feel less artificial, regardless of how you may benefit from the connection.
If you are interested in learning more or expanding your talent, the team at Talon can help. Contact us today to see how our services and expertise can benefit you.