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Ask a Trainer: How Can I Change My Networking Mindset?

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

In this week’s Ask a Trainer guest post, Adam Connors defines what makes an effective networking mindset.

Dear Adam,

I’m currently unemployed and looking for new opportunities. As part of my job search, I’m trying to build my network. Whenever I’ve tried to network in the past, I’ve always had a specific end in mind— usually to get a job, which is the same goal I have now. I’ve noticed, though, that some of my networking attempts aren’t going well. Specifically, when I’m upfront about the fact that I’m looking for a job, people aren’t returning my calls or responding to my messages. Do you think I’m approaching people the wrong way? Do I need to change my networking mindset?

That’s a great question, and you’re right on point—networking is largely about mindset. If your mindset is to get, get, get, you’re going to be what’s known as an ask-hole or a take-hole. You want to be in the situation where people see your number come up and answer the call as opposed to cringing when they see that you’re calling them. You want to be in the mindset where you are trying to provide value to people.

People say that the best time to network or build relationships is 20 years ago, and the second-best time is today. It’s never too late. But you do want to try to plant as many seeds as possible early instead of networking for need. It’s in our nature to help other people. So even if you don’t think you have that much to offer, be a giver. Check in with people. Offer what you can.

There are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to network. When I hear people complain that they hate to network, that just tells me that they don’t understand networking. I define networking as a proactive approach to relationship development, with the goal of benefiting another person. When that’s your intent going into a relationship or a conversation, who’s not going to want to speak with you? Who’s not going to want to spend some time with you? If you know every time we talk, I want to make your life better, it would be foolish for you to not pick up the phone and have a conversation with me.

There is also never a better time to network than when you’re doing well. Many people get this wrong and find themselves in the situation you’re in, where they start networking when they need a new job. In reality, when you’re doing well in your business, when you’re doing well in your family life, when you’re firing on all cylinders, that’s the time to get out there because that’s when you have the most to offer, and that’s when your networks are flourishing.


Identify how important your relationships are and invest in them. It’s the best investment you possibly can have. It’s for your friendship 401(k).

Learn more about building your network from Adam Connors on the ATD Accidental Trainer podcast. His episode aired on December 8.


If you have a question for Ask a Trainer, send it to [email protected]. You can find answers to previous questions by visiting the Ask a Trainer hub.

We welcome your comments and engagement on these posts. All posts are reviewed to ensure appropriateness based on ATD’s requirements for postings in our online communities.

Please note: Content shared in this column is provided by the author and may not reflect the perspectives of ATD.

About the Author

Adam Connors is the founder and CEO of NetWorkWise, a company that expedites outcomes for individuals and organizations by providing education in the science and art of networking.

He’s a sought-after speaker who empowers people through online training and in-person workshops with the expertise to cultivate world-class relationships. He is the podcast host of Conversations with Connors and creator of the esteemed NetWorkWise Certification, a credential that validates the accomplishment of being a leader in fostering connectivity.

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