We all network. Intentionally or not…we all do it. Whether we’re doing a good job of it or not…we all do it. At the grocery store, in line at the amusement park, at the gym…networking can happen any and everywhere. But what exactly are we doing when we’re networking? We are:
>> Meeting someone new
>> Getting better acquainted with an old connection
>> Talking about ourselves and what we do
>> Exchanging business cards
These are all elements of networking (and there is definitely more), but they’re not really what networking is about. I’ve been reading “The Frog & Prince: The Secrets of Positive Networking” and the author, Darcy Rezac, said something that I don’t remember hearing before:
“Networking is [the process of] discovering how you can help someone.”
After reading this definition, I had to pause for a minute and write it down in my journal. Usually, when I think of networking, I think about getting MY name out there and telling people about ME. I do ask about the other person and just because it’s in my nature. I AM genuinely interested in who they are and what they do, but I didn’t really think about it as being such a fundamental part of networking. There is so much emphasis put on perfecting YOUR elevator pitch that no wonder we think it’s all about us. The reality, though, is that it’s not.
My whole view of what networking is has changed. My goal now when I network, is to learn as much as I can about the person to whom I am speaking. I want to help them accomplish whatever goal they may have, whether they accomplish it using a product/service I offer or not.
The next time you meet someone new (or are catching up with an old connection), find out what they need and how you can help them. It may not be through something you offer, but that’s ok. They will likely remember you even more for not being so self-serving. Then next time, when they do need something you offer (or someone they know needs something you offer), guess who they’re likely to remember?