Networking Is Not About Business Cards
Networking is the art of building strong meaningful relationships and is something you need to indulge in regularly. It is about people, meeting them and developing relationships that matter.
Networking is not about getting out for an evening, meeting people and seeing what they can do for you.
Ask yourself: Who are the people I want to know? Who are the ones I want to know better? What do I need to do, or where do I need to go to connect with them?
Ideas: Could be anywhere from attending regular breakfast meetings, to school-related events for your kids, to your running group, to a training you attend, to the person in your creative writing course or even a friendly social event.
Dale Carnegie said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years trying to get other people interested in you.”
Schedule a specific amount of time in your calendar every month to meet with people to further develop relationships, reconnect with those you already know or find external events you can attend to expand your circle. Small or big, informal or formal, find what works for you. It can be a big networking event or attending a lecture with a discussion afterward where you can talk to others. Doing what works for you helps you to more easily connect with the people that are right for you.
Network internally and externally. Many leaders miss this because when they are comfortable they don’t feel a need. Think about how you would treat a friend, do you only talk to them when you need something?
Having said that it is essential to network with your colleagues to exchange ideas, share best practices and know who you can turn to for support when needed. It is equally important to network externally to meet people outside of your company and industry to gain a different perspective. Here you grow your network and you grow what you see as possible!
Actively fill your network with leaders that want what you want. Relationships are about give-and-take. Too many times networkers tend to focus on what they can get. Networking is about building relationships and creating an exchange. No different than your personal relationships!
Build trust. Have a clear understanding that your conversations are confidential. This allows for great exchanges and real learning. This is when you start sharing things that really matter and make a difference.
Be clear on the role you play. Discuss openly what you would like the relationship to develop into. People can’t read your mind. Be honest about wanting to learn from them or gaining access to their network or developing a mutually supportive relationship. Be clear, never manipulate. Also, don’t overstep your boundaries on the first date!
Always be respectful of others and their time, as well as with yourself. If you ask for a referral or advice, follow through. If you say you will show up, be on time. If not, don’t bother. The flip side of this is respecting yourself by honouring what is important to you. It is definitely a two-way street and not every connection will work out.
Networking is an exchange of energy and ideas, not just a business card. It is a must for growing as a professional. The quality of your relationships depends a great deal on the care and attention you give them. Every relationship will not be equal but they all need to be handled with care!
Who is it you would like to connect or reconnect with? Go ahead! Do it now!
Align yourself with what matters most to you. Live your brand fully expressed with intention and purpose to play bigger!
Are you interested in having a conversation to explore how you can define your personal brand and accelerate your growth as a leader, individually or as a team? Send an e-mail to book a complimentary 30-minute consultation.