Networking. I can see why so many people have an aversion to it. I’ll never forget this one event where, no matter how hard I tried, I didn’t seem to be able to connect with the people who were there.
Yet, I’ve had so many other great experiences – events where I’ve gotten so much out of the people I’ve met there and the conversations we’ve had. So how do you rig the game in your favour and ensure that every networking experience you have is a good one?
I have three ideas to offer.
1. Understand networking is a long game
Networking is relationship building – pure and simple. If you’ve been in business for any length of time you know how important relationships are to your ongoing success. You’ll also know that the best relationships are built on mutual respect. This can only be done over a long period of time.
More connections give you better opportunities. The more people you know, the more clients you get referred to you. The more people you know, the more lives you get to touch and change.
Action Step: Don’t go to networking events expecting an immediate return on the time you’ve spent there. Go there intending to meet interesting people with whom you can build genuine and mutually beneficial relationships with long into the future.
2. Address obstacles before you get to an event
Rejection. It’s the thing most people fear from a networking event. We imagine we might meet someone and the conversation will turn awkward. Or we won’t know what to say. Or we might be suffering from imposter syndrome and this affects our ability to assert ourselves in a conversation.
The most important thing to remember is that anxieties like these exist only in your mind and they shouldn’t stop you from achieving what you want. Once you’re aware of that you’ll find it easier to overcome.
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Action Step: Make a list of all the obstacles that might stop you from going out and meeting new people. Make this list exhaustive. Remember: awareness is your friend.
3. Network your way
For some reason, we always think that you have to go to an event to network. This is not true.
There are alternative ways. For instance, I meet lots of people through podcasting. I get to have a chat with at least one person a week for about an hour. Podcasting allows me to invite people to my platform, which reduces the chance of rejection to the very minimum.
Likewise, you can connect with someone on Skype, over a Facebook chat session or a Google hangout. There is no limit.
Action Step: Think about different ways to network. Write down a few examples as to how you can ‘rig the game’in your favour to ensure that when you do have to network you’re comfortable doing it.
The final word
Embrace your individuality and never lower your standards. You are unique and one of a kind. People would love to get to know you as long as you take the time to get to know them. People don’t care how much you know, as long as they know how much you care. Care about each and every one of the people you meet. Because if you care enough you will find every single conversation useful.