Each quarter our team receives three books for our Double Forte book club. This quarter was particularly exciting because we were lucky enough to have Karen Wickre, the author of “Taking the Work Out of Networking” join one of our weekly staff meetings to talk with us about her book, her philosophy and her career.
As someone who put networking on the back burner during the past year of chaos, I found Karen’s book incredibly motivating for me to get back into the networking game. I’ve always found networking events and putting myself out there to be daunting, so I’m happy to share some key takeaways from the book that made me eager to both make new connections and reach out to some old ones.
- Why Networking Matters – Karen does an excellent job explaining the importance of networking for a career. I found this to be the most relevant chapter in terms of the new normal of working from home. The workforce drastically changed due to the pandemic with people either losing their jobs, changing jobs, or moving to a new location because of the new-found flexibility. Many people found themselves caught short because their networks were “old,” and when they needed it the most, it required a lot of attention. Other people sought out new opportunities through personal friends or even acquaintances. If networking sounds intimidating to you, reimagine the word. Karen considers herself a ‘Connector’ and I found this to be a more approachable way, taking the pressure off of the terror of standing in a corner of an event choosing whom to approach.
- Making a Meaningful Connection – Karen stresses the importance of making a meaningful connection. It’s not just about gathering the business card piles. Making a meaningful connection provides for a richer mix of relationships you build. These sections strongly resonated with me because I always felt like attending industry events was all about the exchange of the business card or getting that added connection on LinkedIn. Karen showed me that I will have more success if I send a personalized message while adding that new connection on LinkedIn and relate it to some common ground you might share. From there you should continue to flourish that relationship, rather than make the add and let it dwindle away.
- Practice, Practice, Practice! – This is where I let my networking capabilities completely diminish the last year. It felt so difficult to keep in touch when I knew other people were feeling the same stagnant feeling of being stuck in the house where you now spent all your time. But, I came to realize that this is the common ground to connect on as everyone is in the same boat! Each morning I already spend a good portion of time listening to news podcasts or scrolling through Instagram, and Karen gave me the great opportunity to relate a piece of what I read to someone in my network. Whether it be an article on in-person events returning to Las Vegas that I know an old colleague from my Chico days would enjoy or a detailed overview of the NCAA Championship (goes over my head) that a former mentor would like to see, there’s always some way you can network daily. While Karen does this three or four times a day, I’m committing to starting to do this once a day and work my way up to three or four times a day.
- Entering the Real World – The last bit that spoke to me was the fact that yes, turning to the digital world to connect is great but at some point you will need to apply your networking skills to the real world. As the world begins to open up and in-person events return, we’ll need to sharpen up those social skills and get to connecting. If this means preparing yourself ahead of time, then so be it! Do what makes you feel comfortable. Karen offers some great conversation starters and ways to get rid of nervousness. Remember, work isn’t the only thing you need to talk about. The real connection is made when you relate to them on a more personal level.
So if you’re feeling stuck finding a way to get back into networking or hoping to spruce up your skills, I highly recommend purchasing Karen’s book, “Taking the Work Out of Networking.”
- Miranda Carpenello