Does Networking make you cringe?
Once again, I’m tardy publishing The Wednesday Soundtrack. I’m giving myself kudos for keeping at it and continuing to write, even when I am late. Better late, than never right?
This week’s song is inspired by something that I’ve been working hard to practice lately: Networking. (Eeeks!) Let me be clear: this does not come naturally to me. I’ve always struggled with networking in both my business and personal lives. Before I get into that whole story, here’s this week’s Friday Soundtrack song:
Why Can’t We Be Friends?
I couldn’t understand why business networking or mingling at a party was so difficult.
I recently discovered that surprisingly I am an introvert! Once I realized there was a legitimate reason why networking made me cringe, I was able to learn strategies to help me learn how to do it comfortably and naturally.
We’ve all heard the old saying, “It’s now what you know, but who you know.” While that may be true, networking isn’t really about what you can get from others.
I prefer this definition:
To network is to build meaningful, lasting connections to enhance every area of your life.
Here are my top 6 tips for Networking with Intention
Be Authentically You
Be yourself. Don’t be concerned about what others might think. Be real. Don’t try to be someone or something that you’re not. Let people see, and get to know you.
The whole point of networking is making connections. When you fully show up as your true self, you’ll make stronger connections with the right people.
Keep it Simple
You can’t possibly connect with an entire room full of people all at one time. Focus on making quality, one-on-one connections rather than shallow small talk with several people.
You are building relationships. Let it happen naturally, one conversation at a time.
Stay away from the cliche “what do you do” questions. Remember this is a get-to-know-you conversation, so ask questions to learn about them beyond the exterior. I like to discover what is important to them, or what gets them excited or animated.
Shut Up and Listen
Ask those open ended questions and then just be quiet. Give the other person your full attention. You never know what sort of common ground you’ll uncover.
Be a Giver
Release all expectations of getting something (a sale, a referral, an action) from the people you talk with. Instead focus on what you can give to them.
I always try to shift the focus to the person I’m speaking to. I let them tell me what they need. How can I help, or how can I be of service are always forefront in my mind.
The key here is to make your follow up relevant and personal. Also, stay in that place of service. You may have noticed that even my blog posts end with “How can I help?”
Whether you are at a business meeting, a school event or a party, these skills will help you to become more comfortable with networking!
Since I began networking with intention, I much more at ease in group social situations. I’ve actually enjoyed the functions that I’ve attended and look forward to going to them now.
I have several collaborations on the horizon. I’ve met lots of people that I am happy to refer to others. I even hired two new people to help me with my own business. And I’ve made some fantastic new friends.
So tell me, how can I help you?
PS. If you’d like to learn more about your own personality type, check out this free, online PERSONALITY TEST.