We Must Network!
Like it or not, we must network. While I push it every day, I constantly hear that people hate to do it. They know how important it is, but in a highly individualistic culture, it’s difficult to connect with others naturally. This leaves the person feeling uncomfortable, pretentious, and even dirty. Some people have a natural passion for it, namely, the extroverts who love and thrive on social interaction, many understandably see it as brown-nosing, exploitative, and inauthentic.
In today’s emergency management world, networking is a requirement. It doesn’t take a genius to know that genuine connections lead to more work opportunities and ultimately to a more effective and efficient emergency management office.
Despite an aversion to networking, there is no reason to think that there is not a solution. There are several things that may help change someone’s feelings on the value of networking.
What’s the Research Say?
Sometimes the issue might be a lack of real understanding on the importance of networking. We are so much better when we tap into the expertise all around us. There are a multitude of quality books, podcasts, and websites that lay out the importance, but if someone is not engaged in this, it may be important to introduce them to the concept.
What Do You Have in Common?
Look for individuals and groups that you share some commonalty with. It’s a lot easier to connect with someone who shares your likes or interests. I can really let my hair down when I am around other emergency managers, who have the same questions and concerns as I do. This sort of thing allows someone who may be an introvert to act more like an extrovert.
It Doesn’t Happen Naturally
If you are an introvert, you can’t simply research yourself to be extroverted. In these cases, I would encourage them to start small and focus on smaller groups, etc. Once this becomes more comfortable, move towards larger group networking.
While it’s not easy, successful emergency management requires that we do not try to do it alone. We must create a group of people who can help us do our job better, and this comes through networking.