By: Dallas J. Short
What do you do? Here’s what I do. Oh, that’s your card? Here’s my card. Let’s immediately be successful together. Boom. Championship.
Wait, you mean, that’s not how it works? Nope, not even a little bit. However, this is the format or mind state of expectations that a lot of people have going into networking events.
John C. Maxwell said “your network is your net worth,” and it has remained one of my favorite quotes, in both personal and professional settings. The people you surround and connect yourself with are extremely integral to the representation and determinant of who you are and where you are going in life.
So, before you go, stop.
STOP thinking of networking as merely a required chore that comes along with business. “Showing up is 80% of life,” might have worked for Woody Allen in 1977, but that’s not going to fly these days. You need to place value into relationships. Be genuine. People do not do business with a business card, people do business with people. You do not need to meet everyone in the room and then struggle trying to remember who they are later. Focus on finding people you actually mesh with and people you could just as easily see yourself across from them in a game of billiards as you could across from them in a boardroom.
STOP just attending networking events that seem right for business. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” wrote James Howell. Have an outside interest. Positive energy is contagious, as is negative energy. No one likes the idea of working 8-10hrs and then going to a networking event where everyone is expected to talk about work for another 2-3hrs. Find something you are passionate about and meet people through that, the professional talk will inevitably ooze its way into the conversation, but after you have already established a more natural relationship. You are going to trust someone more in business that you can also trust outside of business. Diversified connections open up doors to opportunities that you might have never knew existed.
STOP expecting an immediate return on investment from business and networking contacts. “If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time,” words from the wise Steve Jobs. No one wants to feel used. This is not a jungle attack, where you are spotting, luring, attacking prey and moving on for the next meal. Make a solid and legit connection with someone, if there is no way for you to currently combine forces, don’t force or pressure it. Maybe that time will come down the road. Maybe it turns out you know someone they could work with or vice versa. Plug in your connections, expand the network, and do not resist paying it forward. Avoid being the guy constantly with your hand out or always running to the proverbial well until it’s dry. That’s not who people want around, ever. Eventually, things will fall into place and make sense for everyone.
“Nothing personal, it’s just business.” Wrong. Maybe that’s how Otto Berman his cohorts handled things then, but business now is more personal than ever and needs to be treated and respected as such.
As always, I welcome all comments and if you like what you read be social and share.