Does an immediate sense of dread cross your mind when it comes to networking? We know that for many, networking can be an activity that is despised. When we talk about the mindset most people have when entering networking, we can understand why many can feel that way.
Our hope for you is to help you change your mindset about networking from a mentality of "what can I gain?" to "what can I give?" That's right, many of us enter a networking opportunity with an end goal in mind of getting as many business cards or connections and calling that a success. However, those that typically have the most success start first with the mindset of giving versus receiving.
Putting yourself in this mindset first is not only more rewarding, but usually more fulfilling because after all, who doesn't feel good when they help someone else achieve something?
Once you achieve a giving mindset, following these three tips will be critical to your networking success and help you in your journey of being a better networker:
Come with your plan. Before you enter any room to network, think about the value you can provide someone else. Remember that any room where you can network is a room full of people who have some sort of value (real or perceived) and that means you too! Think about the value you can provide someone else and what you can do to potentially contribute to their success. Your value story becomes your plan of sharing and helping others.
Be friendly and listen. The best advice I ever received is while you have a value story, don't go into a networking opportunity with an agenda. Just be nice and genuinely listen to people. When you listen to others you not only learn about them, but most importantly, you can learn how you can help them. Again, providing some sort of value to someone else should be your goal. Another important component to keep in mind is that helping someone doesn't necessarily mean that you have to be the one helping them. As you make connections with others that bring value, consider the value they may bring to your network. Connecting others with others who could have a mutual benefit is also networking!
Follow-up, always. The easiest and likely most forgotten step is to follow-up with your connections. People want to know they were seen and recognized for their value. Be sure to follow-up with your connections, however big or small, or informal or formal. You never know when and/or if that connection will be an opportunity for you to bring value to them in some way.
How do you feel about networking - love it or hate it? What approach do you take when networking? Share by commenting below. We would love to hear from you!
Laura and Jaclyn