Ok ok… this title is kinda click bate because I don’t actually mean you should say no to networking, but that you should say no to the networking events that don’t work for you.
When I started my first job search I felt that I had to go to all the events I could find and talk to as many people trying to show how amazing I was. As I’ve experienced more and read some interesting books, I realize that that was probably the worst thing I could have done for myself in that season. When I just went to events and chatted up everyone, I wasn’t comfortable or in my element. Yes, I love people, building relationships and sharing in stories, but I was not in a good place to do that. Every conversation I made it about me, and as wonderful as I think I am… that was a big turn off for others and pushed them away from helping me.
Again, it isn’t about saying no to networking, but just saying no to networking in a way that doesn’t work for you. That doesn’t mean never getting out of your comfort zone, but it does mean figuring a way to be the most conferrable at those events. Bring a wingman / wingwoman and don’t fly solo. No reason to take on the sucky world of networking by yourself. Figure out the events that bring you life. That may mean you say no to the cocktail hour and say yes to a business book club, toastmasters, or local crew you get brunch with and gab about the latest industry trends.
Whatever puts you in the best state of mind and puts you most at ease is what you need to do. When you are anxious and out of your comfort zone, people sense it and instead of remembering you for something good, they remember to stay away from you and end up never helping. Please, do us all a favor and get to know yourself so you can say no yourself to those opportunities that would do you more harm then good.