Does Networking Come Natural to You?
Networking is something that every business coach would say is a must. I have a colleague that thrives on it, and it works so well for him. He is always out and about at every “be scene” event. Sometimes I wish that I enjoyed it as much as he does, but often I feel awkward walking into a room of strangers, grappling at making meaningful conversations. So what am I – and those like me – to do?
- CHANGE YOUR MINDSET: The first thing I have done to address this weakness of mine is to recognize it for what it is. I don’t enjoy ‘networking events’ where my hearing prevents me from hearing most of what people say. The obvious forms of networking don’t work for me. But, instead of abandoning the concept, I am trying to change how I view the concept of networking by changing my attitude towards it. Now, that I have recognized that this is an essential ingredient of success, there is hope.
- RE-BRAND: Because I have such a naturally embedded aversion to the word ‘networking’, I am going to re-name it for my purposes. I call it EXPLORING. That sounds so much more palatable to me. (I know I’m a little nuts.)
- FOCUS ON EXPANDING YOUR KNOWLEDGE: We can learn so much from others. Everyone has a unique story and set of circumstances, and if we approach them with the hopes of expanding our knowledge of the planet, learn from others – both good and bad – we can view networking as a form of exploration and research, rather than forcing you and your services upon them. Getting to know others is getting to know more about the world around you.
- WHAT IS MY STORY? While we should focus most of our time and attention listening to others and allowing them to speak, it’s as important to have a concise, interesting story to tell. That story should include what you do for a living, but it should also indicate your purpose, demonstrate your passion and clearly show deep knowledge and insight in your field without selling! What value do you bring to this world, and how can you add value into the lives of others?
- BE AUTHENTIC: Do you look and/or sound genuine and authentic, or do you appear like a smarmy broker trying to sell something? Are you listening genuinely or are you waiting for them to stop talking so you can continue to sell? What are you giving in this process? Are you allowing others to speak freely and openly? Are you making THEM feel good? Do you maintain eye contact and are you being present? What can you offer THEM to improve their lives? Can you inject some humor into the dialogue to lighten the other person’s day.
- FIND COMMONALITIES: All human beings share something in common. We all have anxieties, joys, fears, challenges, successes and many of them are somewhat similar to one another. Finding that which you have in common is always a good foundation for developing a healthy dialogue and relationship. Maybe you know similar people? A neighborhood? A school? A college? Through your conversation try to identify some commonalities that help you connect.
- BE CURRENT AND INFORMED: Speak to topics that are current and interesting. What is your knowledge of events outside of your field of specialty?
So, if you’re like me on this subject, know there is a way around doing the obvious ‘networking’ that some of us are so good at. Know that there is another way. Try your best to identify a manner of connecting with others that works for you…..and makes you want to keep doing.