To many people, networking seems like a daunting process. For some, even the thought of attending a networking event provokes enough anxiety that they avoid an event altogether. The term “networking” can conjure up images ranging from walking into a room filled with strangers and trying to meet someone friendly, to being cornered by a determined salesperson, to trying desperately to find customers for your own product or service, to standing awkwardly quiet to one side of the room. Over the next few months, I’ll present you with a positive way of looking at networking and share some of the secrets of successful networkers.
Networking is not all about sales.
It is about making contacts and meeting new people – people who may or may not benefit from your products or services, and people whose products or services may or may not benefit you. The point of networking is that every time we meet new people and see them again, we aren’t just building relationships with them. In a broader sense, we are actually establishing connections with everyone those people know, just as they are with us. They might not need what we have to offer, but they might know someone who is looking for exactly that. Similarly, one of their services might be precisely what a friend of ours has been looking for for months.
Networking is “creating relationships whereby you can help others achieve their goals, which in turn will help you achieve yours.”
– Ralph Hayes, President
Data Voice Technologies
As you can see, networking is a process. It’s much more than just passing out and collecting business cards, especially in 2018, when all of that can be done digitally anyway. Instead, it’s about building and nurturing lasting relationships. Only by being genuinely interested in others and in helping them succeed can we gain access to information, solve problems, avert disasters, and achieve goals – not to mention gain qualified referrals.
With this focus on relationships, it’s important to remember that networking is not generally about immediate results. It’s about really getting to know and care about the people we are talking to and genuinely understanding what they have to offer. Because our own reputations are also at stake, only when we achieve a certain comfort level with other people will we feel confident in giving referrals to one another.
The takeaway message from this? The next time you attend a networking event, don’t go looking for people who can help you grow your business. Instead, go with the intention of finding out how you can help others with their business without any expectation of return. It could just be the start of something wonderful.