Friday, 24 April 2015
The Number One Rule For Networking
I think we all know that the old-fashioned 'second-hand car selling approach' simply does not work. I run networking masterclasses and part of what I teach are the skills of building rapport, initiating conversations and asking 'good' questions. It is actually quite extraordinary how many people still consider networking as either 'scary' or 'sinful' and how grateful and deeply relieved they are to find out that networking is actually about giving much more than taking; about long term and strategic rather than short term and tactical. But what I realise is that ultimately it is firstly something to enjoy, so that when you find yourself asking questions it is because you genuinely want to know about people, and when you engage in conversations it is because you actually enjoy them as opposed to rehearsing a script. Professional opportunities seem to be increasingly borne out of conversations that are rather more personal, fun and not strictly work related. At least in my field of work 'people buy people' ahead of services/products and the marketplace is so crowded, information so pervasive and accessible that the only way to stand out is being yourself and truly mean it.
Does this mean preparation has no longer a role to play in networking? That is not correct in my view. I for one need to connect virtually, share and find out about attendees in advance of any networking event. What I am looking for are ways to make links, but furthermore ways to understand the story behind the person. This is indeed an important aspect I have understood, that everyone, absolutely everyone has a story to tell which will be worth listening to - all they need is to be asked the right questions.
So in conclusion, do I believe that face to face networking still matters? Absolutely. Do I believe that it can work so much better when there is a genuine inclination behind it, when you are open to people and their stories? Oh, Yes. Do I also feel that it requires honesty and being-true-to-yourself? This possibly is important above all, because as poet Maya Angelou said: 'People may forget what you said and people may forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel' .