Networking is about Building Relationships
Today, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and join a session on networking. I’d forgotten about the invite and it just popped up, as I was about to settle down to work, to achieve the main tasks I’d planned for the day. But I thought, my businesses were in sore need of sales and I needed to be bolder. I was scared, having no idea who would be on the call and I planned to jump off immediately if I was uncomfortable. But WOW! Did I learn some life lessons?
I’d started out thinking at the beginning of the session … my objective for joining was to market my business, but to temper that I wrote as my objectives when joining …” mutually beneficial business opportunities”.
After listening for a while, I got bumped out of the call and on returning, I wrote “building business relationships”.
I got bumped out again… and this time on returning, as my objective, I wrote what I had genuinely learnt from the session thus far:-
NETWORKING IS ABOUT BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS
Is that not what I had written in the marketing copy for the website of new business I had started 18 months ago? Now during the session, I realised I myself had failed woefully at walking the talk.
I was impressed by how one group had used a 20 min ice breaker session to discover not one, as charged, but six things they all had in common… from traveling, they’d all set up businesses, liked dancing, liked shoes/cooking
With retrospect, perhaps it does come with experience from attending several icebreaker sessions, but the question is:- What do you seek to find out about a person you meet for the first time?… is it what is in this relationship for you? How they can be of benefit to you? You exchange contact details and add to your increasing contact list or your over 500 linked-in contacts or end up joining yet another whatsapp group?
The reality is most business comes in through PEOPLE. Not your network of 500 people or number of contacts – but People, the relationships you have built, the people you are truly connected to.
By the end of the session I was so pleased I’d joined. I’d thoroughly enjoyed the time spent with the new people I had met. I was refreshed, relaxed and inspired. I loved the openness in the 2nd breakout session, where we shared the issues we were struggling with, attempts we were individually making to address them and the good alternative suggestions proffered by others.
A few tips, I learnt from the session today
- Your “elevator speech” that 60 second speech that you reel off to a person you meet for the first time, should not simply be about introducing what you do or who you are – but should touch on what benefit you can offer
- From the elevator speech, creating a connection starts with giving the new person center stage – learn about them, give them the opportunity to share about themselves and find something to genuinely complement them about
- Find a way that works for you to remember names, you’ll need it later
How do you network in the virtual world where you no longer bump into people on the street at lunch time or physically in conferences? Yes, we know we will get back to those days, but virtual is still here to stay and learning the art of networking in the virtual world will remain a necessity going forward. And it’s actually easier than you think!
- Do lunch on zoom – while we wait for augmented reality to enable us “smell the coffee” and “feel the hug” on zoom calls, it is still possible to have fun networking on zoom – doing lunch. Find someone to take a coffee break, eat a salad or share a pizza with on Zoom. Don’t delay make some zoom lunch /dinner dates today
- Overcome public speaking challenges – practice your elevator speech in advance, deal with ums and other fillers – use voice notes to rehearse and invest in yourself with some public speaking coaching sessions. Did you know that Amanda Gorman 23 year old award winner who delivered the poem at Joe Bidens 2021 presidential inauguration once had a speech impediment?
- Create or join virtual network groups where you can relax, have fun, be accountable to each other
Living on land, if you were told you’d need to live in water, you’d think it impossible. But when you have to, you’d put on your goggles as a first step…..just as we have had to accept facemasks, as a part of our wardrobe. Now, while you are living in water, learn the skills to navigate, make new friends, and enjoy swimming with your tribe.