Want to know what a homeless man, CEO, and cheerleader could have in common? Each have probably said this:
“Ugh! I hate networking!”
I too once hated networking.
Initially, I blamed my dislike on being an accountant. I should have horrible communication skills by default, right? And horrible communication skills equal awkward moments in networking.
...by the way, my communication skills are just fine, and I say this with a wink.
And I don’t always enjoy the transactional aspect of networking. By that I mean the effort of trying to make a sale RIGHT AWAY while shoving a business card in a person’s face. Frankly, a 30 second sales pitch is not how I connect with people.
The fact is, however, networking is a necessity because of the many benefits provided to you and your business.
For starters, networking absolutely can lead to business or job opportunities. And a powerful network can produce quality referrals and leads, which is essential for growth.
Feeling misunderstood or alone in your path? Networking can help you meet and build your own tribe or network.
Not sure how to handle a problem at work or in your own business? Reach out to your network and get answers.
Here are some other benefits to networking:
Your business can experience an increase in profit
You can retain quality clients that value and respect your business
You learn to properly brand and promote your business
Experience many, more benefits…
Unfortunately many go about networking the wrong way. Yes, there is a right and a wrong way to network, and it is the wrong way that causes many of us to hate networking among other things.
Because I consider you all to be my network I want to help you network properly and successfully so you all can experience the benefits you and your business deserves.
Here’s exactly how:
Change the Title
Does networking bring up a cringe-worthy image of people wearing ill-fitted suits in some bland room with white walls and brown industrial carpet, asking what you do for a living?
Let’s change that!
Since the title of “networking” or “network” makes you cringe, refer to it as “connecting with your peers”. What about meeting with “Your Tribe”? And you can even call it “hanging out with friends” or “going to meet new and interesting people.”
When you replace the title with something more inviting as well as inspiring, you’ll want to network. …I mean, meet with your tribe or connect with your peers.
Adjust Your Mindset
When you walk into an event, don’t expect to make a $20K sale the minute you shake someone’s hand. If you have that expectation and mindset, you will be disappointed and discouraged.
Instead, go into a networking event for the purpose of letting others know who you are and what you do. Furthermore, get to know others.
Trust me, you will eventually close that deal, if that is your goal. After all, people do business with those they Know, Like, and Trust. So become known, trusted, and liked first!
‘Date’ A Few Events
Begin the process of networking by going to a few different events. See if each event shares your vision and goals. Feel the environment and energy. Talk to a few people and determine whether they are people you would connect with and serve.
Do you have anything in common? Or, simply, could you like the people in attendance?
By “dating” a few events, you can determine the networking event or group that is right for your business. You can also discover a lot about yourself and validate what your business stands for.
Join a Group or Attend Events That Meet Frequently
As mentioned before, people like to do business with those they Know, Like, and Trust. Therefore, you want to see the same or similar people time and time again. Doing so allows them to know, like, and trust you. AND it allows you to know, like, and trust them.
Can't attend recurring events? Follow up! You can connect with the same people time and time again because you followed up!
Networking Is Not Speed Dating
At a recent event, a young woman abruptly interrupted a conversation I was having with another person. She shoved her business card in our faces and introduced herself as someone that is trying to go around the room and meet everyone. Before I had a chance to ask her about her business, she flitted off to the next person, then the next, and the next.
Want to know the truth? I only remember her as the person that rudely interrupted my conversation and refused to make time to connect.
The question is, how do you want to be remembered? If you want people to know who you are and how your business can serve others, slow down and talk to people.
Connect with at Least One Person, Not 500
Don't feel pressured to talk to every single person at the networking event or conference. That is not needed or required.
Instead, try to connect with at least one person. You always remember the person you had a great conversation with. Think quality, not quantity.
Give To Get
This is another one that people get wrong when it comes to networking.
Networking is not always about receiving, also known as “what can you do for me”. Networking is also about giving.
Here are some examples:
As you deepen your connection to a professional group or organization, volunteer on a committee or for an event.
Provide a referral or several to someone in your network without expecting a referral in return.
Acknowledge the birthday, marriage, or anniversary of someone in your network.
Share some insight about a topic with your network.
Host your own networking event or group.
By giving you are receiving.
Be Okay With Saying No
Just because someone says you need to join this group or that group, does not mean it is right for you or your business.
Last January 2017, I said “No” to a Chamber of Commerce after being a member for only two months. Frankly, I shouldn’t have joined in the first place. I joined because someone told me that all businesses should belong to a Chamber of Commerce. However, with each event, I realized that specific chamber was a poor fit for me and my business.
When you say no, you end up saying yes yourself, your businesses, and to networks that are better for you and you for them.
I’m sure you have heard the saying, “Rome was not built in a day.”
The same applies to Networking.
It takes time to build the Know, Like, and Trust factor. In general, it takes time to build anything solid and worthwhile.
So have patience, and enjoy the networking process!