I used to suck at networking. I avoided it. When I had to do it, let’s just say my effort was mediocre, at best.
I would go to networking events, grab a few cards, fail to follow up with anyone, and then gripe that networking doesn’t work.
However, when I think about the art of networking and look back at my past failures, the experience wasn’t to blame, I was to blame. My mindset wasn’t working. I didn’t work. I wasn’t networking, I was notworking.
Networking can be an extremely valuable experience in building relationships and your business. But, you have to go into the process with the right mindset. You have to make sure you’re connecting with others for the right reasons. Be a networker. Don’t be a notworker. So, how can you tell if you’re an effective networker? Here are a few thoughts:
- A networker looks to give. A notworker looks to gain.
- A networker listens and learns. A notworker just talks and toots his/her own horn.
- A networker looks to build relationships. A notworker just looks to build a rolodex.
- A networker plays the long game. A notworker goes for instant gratification.
- A networker is present and in the moment with every conversation. A notworker is always glancing side to side looking for somebody more interesting to talk to.
- A networker leaves an event and immediately follows up with the connections he/she makes. A notworker leaves pissed off that he/she didn’t gain any new business opportunities (see my past self!).
So, who are you? Are you a giver or a gainer? Are you interested or just looking to be interesting? Are you collecting relationships or just collecting business cards.
The next time you’re faced with the opportunity to network, just remember this…
Bring value. Build relationships. Play the long game.