If you aren’t sure if you are getting a return on your networking investment, or you want to make your efforts pay off, then start by adjusting your attitude.
A certain breed of person loves to network in person. They are natural connectors, extroverts, great conversationalists. And there are those who would rather get a root canal than go to a networking event. They see sharks everywhere, they feel lost and at a loss for how to make the most of the situation. They see networking as a necessary evil.
Whether you are in the first category, the second, or somewhere in between, the following is meant to help you get real results from your networking efforts, and in the process, maybe even enjoy yourself (yes, I said “enjoy”)!
What is networking really about? I’ll tell you what it’s not about. It’s not about getting as many business cards as you can, or making sales. If you go in with that objective, you will most likely come out with nothing.
Networking is really about building your network. It’s about forming relationships with people who you can help and who can help you. You may have heard the old saying: “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” This is why we network. At some point, a connection that you make will help you get your foot in the door for your dream job, provide information that helps you move your business forward, or make a recommendation that lands you that big client.
At Provendus Group, one of our Immutable Laws is “Give to Give.” Instead of focusing on what you are going to get out of your networking, try going into your next networking situation with a “how can I help you” attitude, and it will pay off in spades. And not because you are just pretending to “give to give,” and secretly “giving to get.” Do it because it feels good to be helpful. Do it because of the incredible possibility that you will form a true, loyal relationship. Perhaps even make a friend. The kind of friend who you will go out of your way to help, and visaversa. Being helpful to someone else without expecting anything in return is the first step to forming a valuable and genuine relationship.
If you enter a networking situation seeing everyone as a piece of meat, or worse, you see yourself as shark bait, people will sense this. You won’t make any meaningful connections, and you will leave feeling frustrated. Instead, try telling yourself that a new friend is somewhere in that room waiting to meet you, and it’s your job to discover who he or she is.
Examine your attitude towards networking, and if necessary, change it to one that is more productive. What you believe affects how you behave and the results that you get. So if you believe that somewhere in that room full of people, there is someone who you will enjoy meeting and forming a relationship with, that will happen. Try to relax and enjoy yourself. Focus on the positive, tell yourself that this is fun, and it just might be!