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Shifting from Harm to Harmony

The Secret to Networking (That Gets Results!)

I recently attended a business networking event at which there was a palpable common thread: Nobody wanted to be there. I heard things like, “I hate networking events, but I figured I’d give it a shot,” and “I know this is how I’m supposed to market myself, so it’s a necessary evil.” One woman was an introvert and felt uncomfortable in crowds. Another expressed that she was exhausted at the end of a long day.

So if no one wanted to be there, why did they come? Is it really the right way to get ahead? What do we get out of networking, and why?

The answer is in our DNA: Humans are pack animals. We’re not meant to be alone. We need each other for survival. We provide each other with support, comfort, protection, and guidance. Together, we have a better chance at succeeding. So, why do we cringe at the idea of a networking event – what is causing this reluctance, or even dread?

[Related: Seven Things You Need to Know to Overcome Networking Nerves]

Here’s what most people think of when they are headed to an event: a large crowd of new faces with little in common. Walking around the room without much direction. Repeatedly introducing ourselves to people we don’t really get to know, deeply. It’s a numbers game, and we’re looking for the target client or audience, hoping she or he is in the crowd.

But that’s a false approach. And here’s why.

As stated, we’re pack animals. We’re not robots. We’re not built to connect with tens or hundreds of people in mindless and superficial relations. These large numbers of loose connections leave us depressed and feeling alone in the crowd. Instead of feeling supported, we feel vulnerable and weak. We’re built to seek out people to trust and create a solid, deep, mutual connection, and instead we get lost in these mass numbers of faces in a crowd.

So, how do you transform the networking event into a situation you look forward to and really gain from? The answer is to tap into that pack animal DNA. Search for meaningful connections and hone in. Limit your contact and focus.

Rather than engaging in brief introductions and popping in and out of conversations, dive deep into one or two. Find a handful (at most!) of people with whom you will spend the bulk of your time. Get to know them fully. Validate them. Listen for their unique gifts and value. Honor their human-ness. And share yours.

By limiting your scope at networking events, you will create deeper and more meaningful connections. You’ll drive not only your own success, but that of the friends that you make. Limiting your conversations radically increases the likelihood of ongoing dialogue that will get you ahead in your career and lead to longer-term relationships.

Focusing on the few seems antithetical when you enter a room full of people. Remind yourself of the 80/20 rule and limit your interactions – you’ll come away refreshed and excited about your new friends, rather than frustrated with wasted time on small talk.

[Related: Why Small Talk is so Excruciating]

At this networking event I attended, I knew that despite the numbers, it was not a numbers game. I chose to take my time with two or three quality interactions, rather than constantly peeking over my shoulder for who I could meet next. I listened closely to the women I met, was duly impressed with their talents and experience, and am now dead-set on supporting them in furthering their careers.

And you know what? I received a heartfelt email from one of the women I met. She thanked me for the long and meaningful conversation, for listening to her story with interest, and she invited me to grab a cup of coffee and strategize how we can help each other. Likewise, I received two other LinkedIn requests right away, and I plan to get together with these new friends, as well.

I missed meeting most of the attendees at the event. Instead, the few I spoke with truly appreciated our conversation, and the feeling was mutual. The value of these intimate interactions will no doubt take us far and lead to the kind of friendship and support that networking can and should be about.

This article was originally posted on the Ellevate Medium page. You can view the original published here: https://medium.com/@EllevateNtwk/the-secret-to-networking-that-gets-results-556697202486


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Melody Wang

Melody Wang is a Conflict Consultant with the Harmony Strategies Group and CEO of Wang Mediation, which she founded upon graduation from the University of Southern California, Gould School of Law with an MA in Alternative Dispute Resolution. Melody is a panel mediator for the New York City Family Court and serves on the Board of Directors at the Association for Conflict Resolution, Greater New York (ACR-GNY). Prior to moving to New York, Melody was an experienced civil and community mediator in Los Angeles, California, working closely with non-profits, small claim courts and the California federal court. She also led selected trainings and workshops on dispute resolution within the Asian-American community in California.  Melody has lived in the U.S., Taiwan, China and Singapore, is fluent in English, Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese, and especially enjoys engaging in international relations and cross-cultural conflict systems.

Dara Rossi

Dara Rossi, Ph.D. is a Conflict & Strategy Consultant with the Harmony Strategies Group. She has more than 20 years of experience in the field of education and has worked with students from kindergarten through the university graduate level. Additionally, she has facilitated professional development for educators and administrators across all points on the education continuum. After10 years of service in the Department of Teaching and Learning Southern Methodist University, she launched her coaching and consulting business while continuing to serve as an adjunct professor. She holds a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction, an MBA, an MA in Dispute Resolution, and an MAT in Education, and BS in Human Development.

Isar Mahanian

Isar Mahanian, M.Sc. is a Conflict & Strategy Consultant with the Harmony Strategies Group. She is an active mediator who coaches new mediators in the program in which she serves. Isar has worked at a fast-paced technology start-up as the Head of Human Resources, leading senior executives to mitigate and resolve workplace conflicts and creating system level improvements for employees within the company. She holds a Master’s of Science degree in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution from Columbia University. 

Kimberly Jackson Davidson

Kimberly Jackson Davidson is currently the University Ombudsperson at George Mason University and member of the Harmony Strategies Group. She spent two decades at Oberlin College in Ohio, holding positions in the Office of the Dean of Students and as Visiting Lecturer in African American Studies. During her final five and a half years there, she served all campus constituencies as Ombudsperson and Director of the Yeworkwha Belachew Center for Dialogue (YBCD). Davidson is active within the International Ombuds Association (IOA), the California Caucus of College and University Ombuds (CCCUO), and the Ombuds Section of the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR). She earned a B.A. in English Literature from Spelman College in 1986 and an M.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in African Literature in 1991.

Hector Escalante

Hector Escalante is an experienced Ombuds and learning and development professional with over seven years of ombuds experience and over twenty years of experience developing and teaching course offerings which promote inclusion, healthy communication, and conflict resolution. He is the Director of the Ombuds Office at the University of California, Merced, having served many years as the organizational ombuds at the University of the Pacific. He is an ombuds partner with Harmony Strategies Group, and a consulting ombuds for Earthjustice and Union of Concerned Scientists.  Hector holds two master’s degrees and a doctorate in education. He is a United States Marine Corps veteran, a husband and father to four children. Hector’s passions include treating all with fairness, equity, dignity, and compassion and good food. 

Stuart Baker

Stuart Baker is a heart-centered strategic consultant with the Harmony Strategies Group. He makes use of all his experience in the construction industry, mediation and presenting, combined with years of spiritual pursuit, to offer a unique and broad sensitivity in his consulting work. He loves helping people deepen their harmony and connection with others, and with themselves. We are honored to have Mr. Stuart Baker on our team, pioneer of “Conscious Cooperation” – his book can be ordered here

Kira Nurieli

Kira Nurieli is the CEO of the Harmony Strategies Group and is an expert mediator, conflict coach, trainer/facilitator, consultant, and restorative practices facilitator. She has spent upwards of twenty years helping clients handle conflict and improve communication strategies and has presented at numerous conferences and symposia as a subject matter expert. She holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University and a Bachelor’s degree in Comparative Performance from Barnard College. She especially enjoys helping individuals, teams, and lay-leaders become more impactful and empowered in their work and is honored to work alongside her esteemed colleagues with the Harmony Strategies Group.

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