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Do you see networking as too complicated, too time-consuming, and too fake? That's understandable. We're all way too busy, and we've all seen the slimy schmoozer who's given networking such a bad name—we don't want to be like that. Related: 10 Tips For People Who Hate Networking The problem is that networking really is essential to your career success. With a great network, you'll hear about job leads or opportunities you'd otherwise miss. You'll be more successful in your job because you can tap into the collective knowledge and experience of a lot of smart people. So, if you hate networking but you know you need to, start here:

1. Focus Less On “Networking" And More On Building Relationships

If you hate networking, it may be because you don't want to feel as if you are only in it for what you can get from someone (a few people who do that very thing have given networking a bad name). The truth is that good networking isn't about racking up a body count—it's about building relationships. If some of these relationships turn into great friendships, that's wonderful, but if most of them are simple friendly acquaintances, that's great, too. When you think about networking, remember: not every meeting needs to have a goal. The important thing is to establish or refresh a connection.

2. Offer Help To Others

One way to get over the feeling of being a networking parasite is to try to give more than you get. When you email or message your network, try to send them something you think they might enjoy—a link to an article, the name of a great book, or some news you heard. It doesn't have to be big or profound. It will still make a big impact.

3. Do A Lot Of Your Networking Through Email

One of the things that may make you anxious about networking is the feeling that you have to talk to everyone in person. That's not always true. Some of the most effective networking you can do is sending a regular email (or Facebook message or LinkedIn message) to everyone you know. Status updates won't work—direct, purposeful contact is the key. It's super-easy…every six months or so, send each person a quick email (or message) that says something like, “Hi, how are you? It's been a while. I'm [wherever you are, doing whatever you're doing]. If you need anything, give me a call. My phone number is ____. Feel free to pass it along if you know of someone I could assist. Keep in touch!" While it's true that sending these messages and nourishing those connections does take time, it probably doesn't take as much as you think. Think of the time you spend networking as an investment in your career success. You probably went to school to do your job, and maybe you've gone to continuing education classes in one form or another. Those things are investments, too. The investment you make in networking will pay off for you throughout your career in countless ways. Use these tips to make it a little easier. Discover more easy, valuable ways to network in Networking Effectively: How to Build Your Network for Career Success, available on Amazon. This post was originally published at an earlier date.

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About the author

Career Coach - Peggy McKee is an expert resource and a dedicated advocate for job seekers. Known as the Sales Recruiter from Career Confidential, her years of experience as a nationally-known recruiter for sales and marketing jobs give her a unique perspective and advantage in developing the tools and strategies that help job seekers stand head and shoulders above the competition. Peggy has been named #1 on the list of the Top 25 Most Influential Online Recruiters by HR Examiner, and has been quoted in articles from CNN, CAP TODAY, Yahoo! HotJobs, and the Denver Examiner. Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert.
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Everyone needs to feel their voice is heard and their contributions are important. Something as simple as sharing a drink the last hour of the day on a Friday with the team to recap wins and give praise can build camaraderie within the team.

All of the above are fairly simple to implement but can make a huge difference in morale and motivation. Have any of these tips worked well for young the past? Do you have other tips to motivate your creative team? If so, please share them with me!

Encourage curiosity. Spark debate. Stimulate creativity and your team will be better at handling challenges with flexibility and resourcefulness. Create a safe space for ideas, all ideas, to be heard. In ideation, we need the weird and off-the-wall ideas to spur us on to push through to the great ideas.

Sure, there are a ton of studies done on this, but here is my very unscientific personal take. When team members can make decisions about how they work on projects, they are more engaged and connected to the project outcome. When they see how potentially dropping the ball would affect the entire team, they step up. When they feel like what they are doing is impactful and valued, they are naturally motivated to learn more, and be even better team members.

Rarely does a one-size-fits-all style work when it comes to team motivation. I have found that aligning employee goals with organization goals works well. Taking time to get to know everyone on your team is invaluable. What parts of their job do they love? What do they not enjoy? What skills do they want to learn? Even going so far as to where they see themselves in five years career-wise. These questions help you right-fit projects, and help your team see you are committed to creating a career path for them within the company.

Most designers I know love a good challenge. We are problem solvers by nature. Consistently give yourself and your team small challenges, both design-related and not. It will promote openness within the team to collaborate, and it will help generate ideas faster in the long run. Whether the challenge is to find a more exciting way to present an idea to stakeholders or fitting a new tool into the budget, make it a challenge just to shake things up.