Networking Guru Janine Garner says “A strong connected and mutually beneficial network and the intentional support of another helps to boost confidence, achieve clear goals, create business leads and support decision-making.”
So what is the right way….
Networking must be approached both responsibly and respectfully to ensure authenticity.
a) Mindset – In Service
Most importantly the key is to have a mindset of being in service, of turning up not to see what you can get but what you can give to the room or somebody in it. Too many people turn up to events looking to see what they can get from the room; their desperation is palpable – they exude it and people feel it.
The better approach is to have a mindset of serving the room, looking to see what you can give or leave to the people you meet ensuring an impression of integrity and professionalism.
This means networking is a far better approached being a long term game, so be it.
b) Be Present
The desperation that some bring to networking events manifests itself into individuals looking around the room to see who else is there leading to shallow, fruitless discussions.
It is far more powerful to leverage your mindset into one outstanding conversation at any one time where you are completely present, this has a better chance of leading to some benefit for either party or at the very least a memorable exchange.
c) Quality not Quantity
Some people, particularly sales people roll up and they can meet push a business card down the throats of as many people as they possibly can before reverting to the safety of tried and true (?) industry friends that are less risky.
There have been times in the past when I too have fallen into the trap of taking the “easy” option, more recently I have been able to train myself to ask, “what the easiest thing is to do,” then do the opposite, because I know deep down that is where the opportunities lie.
Over 10 years ago I arrived at a huge event and there was one fellow in the middle of the room obviously by himself and looking incredibly vulnerable. I went up to him, introduced myself and we had a meaningful chat for 30 minutes. We stayed in semi-regular contact, have both had two career changes since and some real opportunities where we can both benefit are currently presenting themselves now – boom!!!
American poet Maya Angelou said, “I have learned that people will forget what you said and did but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I am not sure that she was talking about networking then but she may as well have been.