Networking. There’s a buzzword we’re all used to. But what really is networking?
For many people, the term “networking” conjures up images of a packed room full of sleazy salespeople thrusting their business card at anyone who makes eye contact.
Sadly, people have that image for a reason - because they’ve had exactly that experience.
Let’s reclaim the word by changing what we think of as networking.
At its core, “networking” is nothing more than connecting with other people. And by connecting, I don’t mean collecting as many business cards as possible. I mean making a genuine connection with another human being.
When thought of that way, “networking” is not some specific thing you go and do. Rather, “networking” is what you are naturally doing every time you engage with another person.
When we start looking at networking as simply connecting, it’s easy to make part of our routine, even when we don’t necessarily need it.
In fact, when we don’t “need” it is precisely the right time to do it.
We network before we really need it for the same reasons we save money. This is an investment in our future. Plus, when we network when things are going well we project confidence and have the potential to make stronger and more useful connections.
And trust me, confidence is key.
When we start to use networking as a life raft, people can sense the desperation. And desperation isn’t a good look on anyone. If you wait until there’s some sort of crisis, it’s too late to build a network of connections.
Think of it like farming. You need to plant the seeds in the spring and nurture them through the summer so you have food in the fall.
You will get more of what you want if your “ask” is prepared, specific, and consistent.
Your “ask” should consist of a clear, concise statement of what you do, who you do it for, and what benefit they get. Spend some time writing down an elevator pitch that follows the basic format below.
I work with [SPECIFIC DESCRIPTION OF IDEAL PROSPECT] to [PROSPECT’S PROBLEM THAT YOU SOLVE] so that [BENEFIT PROSPECT GETS].
Practice is key.
Know your “ask” like your childhood address. Practice in the mirror, for your pet, or on your daily commute. You want to have down so that when anyone asks “what do you do?”, you can rattle it off naturally and confidently.
Don’t dismiss someone because you don’t think they can help you. Networking works like dominoes falling onto each other, one connection opens the door to another and so on; you never know who people know until you get to know them.
If you want to get a lot from the connections you make, focus your effort on giving. I’m not suggesting you bring a bottle of Trader Joe’s finest 2-buck Chuck. Bring yourself as an offering. Yes you! You and the network of connections you’ve built are valuable assets to others.
"You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want."
- Zig Ziegler
If you step back and consider all the different people who you’ve met, I’m sure you will start to see patterns. Person A needs X and Person B has Z, but has a cousin who manages a company that sells X. And there you go, the wheels start spinning. If you can make a habit of connecting other people, the network only grows stronger and betters your chances for more diverse and helpful network overall.
Follow-up and follow through with any connections you make!
This is the most important step when dealing with any connections is making sure you don’t lose momentum. Make sure you nurture your relationships with check-ins and follow-ups. While some relationships maybe more like succulents requiring less of an attentive eye, in the end all are like plants that need some level of care and attention to grow.
If you feel like you’re not getting the most out of your network and want to learn more about growing impactful and meaningful connections for your business give us a call.
If you are having trouble knowing exactly where your business should be going or what you need to make your journey successful, we can help!
Book a free 1-hour Breakthrough Consultation with us.