I have to say, networking has not been a strong suite of mine. As an introvert, I usually stay away from crowds or anything that remotely resembles crowd like functions. Especially where talking to people about myself is required or promoting my business in a manner to get sales.
To be completely honest, sometimes when I just hear the word networking it make me feel anxious. If you are an introvert like me, you may recognize this feeling and easily relate to where I’m coming. However, if you are extrovert you may thrive on the idea of meeting new people and talking about yourself and promoting your business with ease.
Sometimes the word networking gets a bad reputation because of the disingenuous nature of people whom you’ve never met before all striving to get something from the other person to help better them in their business.
The term networking in the Webster’s dictionary is defined as: the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically : the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business. Sounds pretty simple right? However, this term has turned into a word that goes beyond the level of an exchange of information among individuals; to an exchange of personal gain without building a prior relationship or some kind of genuine connection between two parties. This in turn has inadvertently turned a lot of people away from the idea of networking.
So here’s why. It’s seems that for the most part, a lot of people who exercise the use of networking come from the mentality of, I am the little guy, let me see what I can get from the big guy and with a little persistence I’m pretty sure I can get what I want from the big guy.
If you’ve ever been to a networking event, it seems everybody is out to get what they want by telling others about how great they are and what their business can do for the other party. Which actually sounds pretty practical if you think about it. You’ve probably been there, you are all “buttoned up” or dressed down, you have your business cards on standby and your fake smile you use use during most non engaging introductions. Unfortunately, in this new social society this approach no longer works.
More and more people are wanting to make real connections, especially when it comes to business. Instead of looking at networking as how can I promote my business, start looking at it as what can I give to the new person I meet. It’s one of the best approaches by far from the most successful small business owners. I have heard so many incidents where entrepreneurs who have had so much more success by going to networking events giving to others; instead of going to the event with the attitude of what can I get.
This approach can be done with just a little mind shift and some attitude adjustments. Here’s a few tips to help you on making the paradigm shift.
Be Genuinely Interested About The Other Person
Now that I am back in the dating world, I use this technique all the time. If I really want to know someone, I genuinely want to know them. What their interests are, their passion, their likes and dislikes and so on. It never fails, the person I am meeting truly appreciate its. This is so important, consider it an investment. A lot people miss this when meeting new people. Most of the time we like to talk about ourselves and our business; but what’s more important than talking about ourselves is allowing the other person to talk about themselves.
The best thing any new person you meet loves to hear is themselves talk.
That is not just true with networking, but in life in general. This goes for same in the business world. Ask questions that demonstrate that you are really interested about the person. Not questions that you think will get them to like you, but questions that are open ended and develop a deeper connection to you and the other person. Remember this is a human interaction and not a drone interaction. Humans act and respond better to genuine interaction that leads to a relationship. If you show you are invested in them as a person, the relationship that is formed will provide a foundation for your business relationship to be built upon.
I have a hard time with this one, because I am mostly in a serious mind frame. It’s not that I don’t like to smile or don’t want to smile, it’s just that smiling requires effort. If you are like me most of your mind and effort are on something else. So when you are in the midst of making connections a lot of time you are in your head and not present. Your mind is preoccupied with questions like, how can i do this, or what if i say this, or how can i get them to notice me?
When you are beginning your quest in networking, AKA helping people, there is one thing you must do and that is welcome people with with a smile.
Remember the main point that I want you to focus on is giving, and giving someone you meet for the first time a pleasant smile opens up the other person to receive whatever you have to offer them. You have to remember that when you are networking, whether it’s a venue or on the elevator always greet the person you are wanting to connect with a smile. A smile goes a long way, and it’s scientifically proven that it warms the other person up to you.
Learn Their Name
No, I mean really learn their name. I have to say, I am terrible at remembering people’s names when I first meet them. You know why, because most of the time I am focusing on myself and not the other person. The next thing you are going to do when you network, aka- help other people, is learn their name. Since you are there to help them, you must make them feel at ease and learn their name.
One of the best ways to learn someone else’s name while meeting them for the first time is to repeat their name back to them.
For instance, So Bob, you like going golfing on the on your days off. Bob why is it that you like to go golfing at the Robert Trent Jones Courses as opposed to some of the other courses? Another way to quickly learn someone’s name is associate someone’s name to something that relates to you. For instance, When someone ones says my name is Serena, you say “oh yeah, like the professional tennis player”. Then you mentally see put a image in your mind of Serena the person you just met playing tennis. I know, it’s sounds crazy, but it works. I used this technique when learning different chemicals for my chemistry class back in college.
Ask How You Can Help
We live in a social economy, where we are more connected in many ways than none. Asking someone how can you help sounds so counterintuitive from the traditional way of networking, but with this new economy this is actually the best way.
You have to remember the framework that I am suggesting to you which is to give, so one of the best ways you can connect with someone is by giving. You can do that by simply asking them how can I help? Then actually following through with what they need help with. If you don’t have the answer, but know of someone that does point them into the direction of the person that can help them.
The cool thing is that when you help them you actually leave a good impression on them, which opens the possibility for a better relationship than if you would have tried to connect with them the traditional way.
So the next time you are meeting someone in your business arena, just by genuinely investing in getting to know them, it will eventually will allow you to ask them how can you help.
Following these few tips when meeting someone that you are wanting to make a connection with, gives you value and opens the doors for a genuine relationship between you and the person. My hope is for you and I to practice these steps with the mind frame of helping and giving; and not so much of asking and taking.
We live in a world where transparency is a must, especially in the business world and being a person who serves others goes a long way. In the networking world serving others is your number one priority.
A lot of my tips and ideas come from the bestselling book How to Win Friends & Influence People
. It is filled with examples of how successful people have made built extraordinary relationships in business simply by meeting the needs of others first before asking for anything from them. I highly recommend this book. To read some of the reviews from other people who have read this Click Here