A female deaf colleague and I were discussing networking the other day. It’s a vital part of our professional lives, yet we both find it hard. One of us is freelance and the other works for local Government. We usually manage by sticking to the people we know, and hoping others will gravitate toward us, rather than vice versa.
Do you have any advice on how we could build on existing networking skills, so we thrive rather than survive in important work/social situations?
Networking is a hot topic amongst deaf professionals. For most of us, it’s a toughie. Even hearing people find it difficult. If it’s not easy for them, what hope is there for the rest of us?
Most people network with people they already know. A few years ago, I heard a professional networker suggest looking at people and seeing what they have in common with you – a beautiful necklace, a sport that interests you – then approach them.
As a deaf person, my priorities are different. I prefer to scan the room, and see who looks easy to lipread, then go over to them. Usually, if those people are easy to lipread, they tend to be generous too anyway.
I like your comment, ‘thriving not surviving’, but sometimes surviving is all we can do. I look forward to what others have to say on this topic.