When I first started networking in my business, my mindset was not very good. I would often question myself about how I could possibly add value to others? I would often think “I am not an industry expert in HR, or Travel, or Relocation, or whatever group that it is meeting”. This thinking will lead you to fear and doubt, as well as reduce your confidence around people. The day you figure out ways to add value as a business professional will be the day networking will change your perspective and open doors for you that you would have never dreamed were possible.
Networking takes skill with a focus on serving others. When I was attending a networking event years ago, I remember at the end of the meeting where the facilitator asked everyone to stand up and exchange business cards for 2 minutes and try to see who could get the most cards. People would quickly shake your hand and literally throw your card at you before moving on. It was like a tornado of business cards blowing in and you were just trying to get through it. This is NOT networking. Networking is about listening, learning, sharing, and being resourceful. It’s also about having a strategy for positive results.
Here are 3 strategies to focus on next time you network for maximum value:
Show up. When I decided to attend my second DallasHR meeting back in 2004, I pulled into the parking lot and remembered the overwhelming feeling I had experienced from the previous meeting. I didn’t know anyone and was getting nervous as I walked up to the hotel. Once I walked in, I looked over at the sea of people networking and immediately walked out of the hotel back to my car and started to leave. I was a wreck. However, I knew that in order to meet people, and connect with others, I had to take action and show up. I am glad I went back into the meeting, because it has impacted my business and personal life in a positive way for over 13 years now.
Be a learner. Focusing on the other person when networking is critical. We all know what it feels like when you have someone come up to introduce him/herself and just start talking about their business or their personal goals. My wife and I attended a book signing not too long ago and met some great people. When we left, she mentioned that she met a few people and learned a lot about what others are doing in their careers, but she also experienced an interesting observation. She said nobody asked about her career. So many times we get caught up talking about our own situation and forget to learn about what others are doing to achieve success. It reminds me of the quote by John Maxwell, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”. Asking questions and learning from others will deepen the connection every time.
Add Value. A lot of people struggle with this area because they don’t feel like they have anything important to share. We all have a story and value to share. We just need to find the connection. Value is about learning, sharing, and being resourceful. Another way to add value is to help others connect. When I am networking with someone and see another person I know, I try to introduce them so they can connect. People appreciate and value a good personal connection. I also try to learn as much as I can so that I grow and share with others to help them grow their business and/or in their personal life. Networking is a skill that you can develop with practice, but it takes some work along the way. However, the payoff will be priceless.
Call to action: Write down some questions to ask the next time you plan to attend a networking event. Focus on learning more about them and how you might be able to add value in their business. You will be amazed at the results.
This has been “a Relocation Minute update” on “Networking” with Bruce Waller, for more information on relocation resources, call 972-389-5673, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter too!