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Why am I Intimidated by Networking?

Do I Really Have to Network?

Ok, so let me guess, you have been seeking a new job or trying for a promotion, however, you can’t catch a break. You have a great resume and cover letter, a good reputation from people who know you and you are skilled and ready for the next step…still, you can’t seem to capitalize on any opportunities. What are you doing wrong? Well, for starters, the main opportunity you are not truly capitalizing on is the fact that you have all of those essential things in place and you know you are ready, but do enough people realize that you are ready?

This is the whole idea behind networking, it is really about just making your skills and ambition known to others, which is where the intimidating part comes in; many of you feel like you are a shameless vacuum cleaner salesman who needs to go around and steer every conversation about how great and needed their product is (in case I lost you, the product is not a vacuum, it’s you), which turns people off and often makes a bad impression. This is true, no one likes to be around a pushy salesperson or talk to folks who are only there to sell you on something.  People hate talking to others who are not being genuine and are only there to push forward their ulterior motive or personal agenda.

Another part that really intimidates people with networking is a lot simpler.  Most of us don’t like talking to strangers. Maybe it’s because, like me, you grew up in the 80’s with ‘Stranger Danger’, or maybe you simply have an introverted side and it just takes a lot out of you to meet and chat with those you really don’t know.

Networking Doesn’t Have to be Complicated

So, do you need to be an extraverted, natural salesman to network?  No, not at all, networking is traditionally thought of as going to formal events and mingling and chatting with strangers, exchanging business cards, making small talk and looking for ways to humbly brag.  Now, I will admit as someone who does this a fair amount, this is both intimidating and exhausting.  In the work I do, I spend a lot time “schmoozing”, which is the part I like the least even though there are those rare times I meet someone who I really click with and who gives me new ideas and viewpoints.  Is it my most meaningful form of networking? No, not even a little.

The most meaningful networking approach for me revolves around two simple, yet impactful, strategies; looking for information or looking to help.

There is a professional speaker and author named Michael Goldberg, (here is link to his TEDX talk), who is an expert on networking and he has a great definition for it: “A proactive approach to meet people to learn with the prospect of helping them” – Michael Goldberg

Personally, I like this definition of networking because it is not suppose to be about convincing people to hire you, buy from you, refer you, or listen to your ideas.  Nor is it meant to be an intimidating and overwhelming process; it should be about learning and helping.

How to Comfortably and Effectively Network

The trick to the formal networking events is to have a reason to network, a purpose for the conversations. When I do the “schmoozing” the only real benefit I get out of it is that people see my face, maybe learn my name, and hopeful share contact info. The main payoff is that if I follow up with the new person I met, I have a starting point to the conversation where I can reference where we met. However that follow-up contact (phone or email) is where the real networking begins. Normally when I reach out to people to follow up it is because I am trying to get information, learn something or look for a way to help. Oddly enough, my follow up from the schmoozing is only marginally more effective than when I cold call someone to get information or look to help. That could mean one of three things; either I am a bad conversationalist, a relentless cold caller, or the real impact of networking is looking to do something with or for the person I met. For my own self-esteem, let’s hope the later is true.

The key is to network with intention, not just at schmoozing events but with everyone you come in contact with while going about your everyday.  Always look for any reason to reach out to someone new with a purpose whether it is at work to contact a new vendor, service provider, government employee or community member, or even if it is chatting with another parent at your kid’s basketball game.  It is important to have a reason to look for information or to help; this will give you the purpose to contact them.

Keep in mind; it is really only by a continued relationship that you start to build a network. Only by working with people, following through on your commitments, showing your passions and dedication and providing the give and take that is essential to all successful relationships will a new person actually become part of your network. Then you begin to capitalize on your skills and ambition plus build the reputation you need to get to where you want to go. The old adage, “It’s not what you do, it’s who you know” is not accurate.  A more fitting adage is, “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.”  This is how you start to make a difference and build up your reputation.  There is no sense being ambitious and passionate at something if you are only working with and preaching to the converted. Remember, an effective way that networking can make a huge difference in looking for information or looking to help is with volunteering.  I wrote an earlier article about on LinkedIn this titled: Volunteering is Your Career Marketing Plan. Check it out for more depth on this.

The Takeaway

Networking isn’t just about the intimidating schmoozing events, it is about the conversations you have with people and the connections that you make as you are trying to look for information or to help. This is how you show individuals, ideally lots of people, your skills and ambition. This is how you build a network that will capitalize on those skills and ambition.  Events are an okay place to start, but it is about the follow-up and the actual work you will do with people that makes for effective networking. So if you are looking to be less intimidated by networking, you just need to have a reason to reach out to people who are outside your existing network and find ways to learn from them or to help them.  After that, your skills and ambition will take over and you will create the reputation you deserve and develop the network to match.


Roman 3 is an advising and solutions firm that specializes in inspiring progressive action, creating a culture of innovation, and assisting organizations in implementing transformative change. We help you build capacity, collaborate, be progressive, and grow to your full potential. For more information on our services and support check us out at 

Improve The STATUS Of Your Brand In The Labour Market

First off, what is branding….really?

There appears to be some confusion when it comes to clearly understanding branding. When discussing the subject, it is important to clarify what it isn’t. Branding is not the same as marketing, advertising, or public relations. Let’s quickly clarify the difference:

Me to you: “I’m a great Opera Singer!”

(That’s marketing)


(That’s advertising)

Someone who I pay to tell you: “Trust me—he’s a great Opera Singer!”

(That’s public relations)

You to me: “I hear you are a great Opera Singer.”

(THAT’s branding!)

Basically, a brand is the association that people make with a particular person or product. A brand is the consistent message that is the foundation for a person or product’s reputation.

Strong branding is both complex and essential

Career and business minded people are always looking to define what sets them apart, both in the consumer market and the labour market. Whether you are a business wanting to have the reputation that draws customers to your doors, or draws eager job applicants to your job postings, the reputation of your business is critical to your appeal. Basically, what everyone wants to be associated and known for the desirable qualities that will define their success.

Branding your business in the labour market is not that different than branding your business in the consumer market. Your reputation will largely impact how people choose to interact with you. If you treat people with respect, value their relationship and interactions with you, make it clear why you are the superior choice above others in your field, and consistently and thoughtfully uphold that standard over time; you will attract the interest you are seeking.

Knowing what you need to do, and knowing how you need to do it are not always the same thing. To help break down the elements of your brand, we have created a helpful tool to get you started. What is interesting is that these steps are the same if you are building a brand for your business in the labour market, a brand for a product in the consumer market, or a brand for yourself in the job market.  We call this the STATUS model. STATUS is an acronym for the core components of this approach. It stands for:

Spice – What is the unique essence that you have to make you stand out? What are your unique offerings? Your values? Your background? What is your competitive advantage?

Talk – What do you say you bring? (Not only now but to improve things in the long term?) What are the impactful skills and qualities you have? What is your value add?

Action – What are you doing to be successful now? What will make you the best choice from day one?

Target – Who and where are you trying to reach? What are they looking for? What are their needs? What purpose will you be able to fill?

Uniform –Are you presenting consistently? Are you a value fit with your target? Can you bring that fit consistently? How is this not just a hollow sales pitch?

Suitability – Does your brand fit with the target? Both in the long term and the short term?

STATUS is about helping people and businesses use self-awareness and critical reflection to make an intentional plan based on their experiences and values. STATUS provides a series of checkpoints to guide individuals and companies through the self-discovery process to find and convey a unique brand.

There are some great examples of companies who use their brand to stand out as the favorite in the labour market. We have all heard of great perks and experiences with companies like Google, or Virgin, they are well known. There are also great examples of companies who lean into their “Spice” and it guides how they do their business. Zappos, who proudly states A Little Weirdness” as a core principle is a great example of this.

The big examples are often inspiring but may be a little harder to relate to. Sometimes it is not about the big shift, as much as it is about focusing on retaining the success you are already having. Who are the people who will be sharing and spreading your reputation? In the labour market it is your current and past employees.

There isn’t anything you can do about your past employees, but you certainly can make a difference with your current ones. Maybe that is the target for your branding in the short term. Make your current employees feel respected, trusted, encouraged, and inspired. Increase employee motivation and productivity by being committed to employee engagement. They are likely already talking about your business to others, make sure the STATUS of that conversation is in your favour.

This can work for you too

The key to a unique and compelling brand is to be intentional, consistent, and focus on what is already working. Given enough time and commitment, you can build your brand and your reputation to the point that people may even stop you on the street to comment on what a great opera singer you are.


Roman 3 is an advising and solutions firm that specializes in inspiring progressive action, creating a culture of innovation, and assisting organizations in implementing transformative change. We help you build capacity, collaborate, be progressive, and grow to your full potential. For more information on our services and support check us out at