Reframing Networking

Written by Emilee Simmons

Networking. Love it or Hate it, it’s necessary in our line of work.  And let’s face it, necessary in any line of work!  But especially after the effects of the pandemic, networking and getting social again can be crucial to supporting your team and enhancing your own professional development.

But to get us going, sometimes we have to ‘reframe’ how we see things to give us the positivity and momentum to help us succeed.

It all starts with ‘being present’

In April, I received an email from another EEUK board member to say that we have an international guest coming to the UK in early May, and would I be interested in speaking with them.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I sometimes feel like I need a 16-week lead time to make sure there’s room in the diary… but this time, I was free.  And not only was I free, but it was also slap-dab in the middle of a stressful week.  My first instinct was to say no. But instead, I decided this could be a fantastic couple of hours ‘break’ to speak with a human, and not try to wrestle with the new ‘insert has to spell something out ACRYONYM here’ academic policy, report, etc. that would be due.

And I think right there, that’s a moment that could change how some of us think about networking.  How many people reading this blog would consider ‘networking’ a fantastic break, and something to look forward to?

The idea I’m getting at here is: cognitive reframing.  Common in psychology, cognitive reframing is all about changing the way you look at something, so you experience it differently.  Often this is about taking learning experiences from negative experiences and/or removing ‘cognitive dissonance’, i.e. how replacing flawed thought patterns with more realistic and positive ones.

When I received this email, my first reaction was that of negativity.  I saw my schedule, and it was full. I thought about the physical and psychological drain we can sometimes have now because we’re not used to dealing with people face-to-face post-pandemic. So, I immediately went to the negative.

For those who know me, I am very passionate about entrepreneurial learning and to support success (whatever that is/means/looks like) for all.  A new significant part of this has been the introduction of entrepreneurial mindset research, training, and pedagogy into my practice – as an educator (professional practice), but also in my own personal development.  Through entrepreneurial mindset training and development, I am starting to use new techniques to help me to reframe my perceptions of different actions, thoughts, and events that can have a profound affect (negative or positive) in my life.  Including the event described above.

So What? And Now What?

Love it or hate it, networking is something we all have to do.  But how we perceive events and tasks in our professional lives is really up to us.  We have the power to reframe our thinking and turn something that we might dread, into something we can see real, positive value in.

So, before your next networking event, try a little cognitive reframing training and see how it might help you.