Networking SUCKS…No Two Ways Around It
Harsh sentiments, yes. But networking sort of sucks. Or at least that’s the feeling I often come away with after most networking events.
One of my main gripes is the very nature of this beast — to get something from someone else.
When everyone in the room wants something from someone else without the willingness to give something in return, the whole thing comes off as self-serving and disingenuous — not to mention, defeats the entire purpose of networking.
But networking is now an essential part of marketing your brand. You got to get out in front of people to sell, service or simply get the job. Otherwise, all those bills on your desk just won’t get paid.
So how do you make networking a bit easier? And with the added bonus of not seeming too much like a networker?
However, none of these goals have anything to do with selling your wares — not directly, at least.
- Get to know someone new. Sounds obvious, right? But I’m not talking about a bunch of introductions. Introductions only get your name out there for a day, at best. Getting to know someone, on the other hand, makes you memorable. So set a goal to get to know two to three people that day.
- Practice active listening. When you actively listen to someone, you really start to understand his or her needs. This understanding often can build the foundation for a longer-lasting relationship. A relationship that may prove mutually beneficial later down the line.
- Offer help when necessary. If you can help, go ahead and offer. But I’m not talking about a self-serving gesture. Don’t hand someone your business card with a “Gimme a call and we’ll see what I can do.” No, offer up some free advice or direction. Hopefully, the act will someday be reciprocated.
That’s it. Those are your only goals. By entering any “networking” situation with these three missions in mind, you take the pressure off yourself and the other person, which goes a long way to avoid the self-serving nature that often accompanies this sort of affair.