Do you work at networking or does networking work you? A few weeks ago, we talked about “Networking that Works” on the Business is ART podcast at the TrueChat Network with guests Clayton Hicks, founder of The H7 Network, and Kelley Reno Culley of Reno Insurance Agency (and long-time member of The H7 Network).
Kelley and Clayton brought up several great points about networking that are summarized in this post.
Why Is Networking Important?
Why network, anyway? Don’t you have better things to do? As it turns out, probably not – at least as long as your networking efforts are effective and you don’t over-extend yourself. You simply cannot be a member of every networking group out there and still find time for the simple things, like your job, business and family.
Networking may be important to you for many reasons, but a few of the big ones include:
- Because it is a way of helping others (more on this in a moment)
- Because you are new to an area or community
- Because you are looking for qualified leads through referrals
- Because being able to say “I know someone that does that” builds your own credibility
- Because it is good to hear from others what is going on outside of your own business or industry
Is There a Wrong Way to Network?
Yes. Opinions may vary, but mine is that going to cocktail mixers are not great networking opportunities. Everyone is there to be seen and for the free appetizers. 2 drinks, a plateful of goodies, and I’m outta here!
Networking meetings/events should be intentional and designed to give everyone an opportunity to speak and listen. As Clayton points out in the podcast, without that structure, an introvert may be very uncomfortable.
Other ways to make networking more effective include:
- Make it about others (more on this momentarily)
- Have a personal intro and elevator pitch ready
- You want people to be sold on YOU, not so much your product
Don’t Make it All About You, Focus on Helping Others
The person who has joined or visiting a networking group and is solely in it for themself is easy to spot – and an immediate turn-off. A visitor once came to a group in which I am active and told us all about an event she was having. Fine. But she closed with the following, “If 10 of you show up for my event, I will join this group.”
Errrppp. Thanks for playing. But, no thanks.
A better approach with everyone you meet at a networking meeting or event is “How can I help you?” That leaves a much better impression than “Boy, am I doing you a favor by being here. Let me tell you why you need my $hit.”
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