Networking Doesn’t Work…but connecting does.
The tradition of networking at events usually involves asking the other person “what do you do?” and exchanging business cards. Then of course you follow up with a connection on LinkedIn. The definition of success for these types of events is the number of meaningful connections not the number of people you collect cards from.
We suggest you focus on connecting instead of card collecting.
Connecting with others is invaluable if you think about the benefits of having wide connections (lots of people in your network) versus narrow connections (few people in your network.) Wide connections can help you open doors to new opportunities or new relationships. It’s who you know not just what you know or what you can do that will enable you to be successful in business.
Tips for Connecting:
- Be a Person of Interest. People like to spend time with other people who are fun, friendly, interesting and potentially valuable to their career. You become a person of interest by being authentically who you are, being well read and having thoughtful positions on a variety of topics.
- Add Value. You have tremendous value to share. You must believe this yourself before other people will believe you. As our mentor says, the first sale is to yourself. Through meaningful connections you can help others succeed. Lead with the value you offer and others will be magnetically attracted to you.
- Focus (be intentional.) If you believe in the power of connecting then you understand that there are some people who are more appropriate to be connected to than others. Prepare in advance by thinking about who you want to meet and focus on getting connected with them rather than making accidental connections at an event or through colleagues.
- Ask Great Questions. Recently a friend shared the most fabulous redirect question to use during the traditional networking event. When someone asks what you do, say “I’d be happy to answer that but I have a really important question I’d like to ask first.” Proceed to ask, “what is the most challenging thing you’ve experienced this past _____ (week, day, month, you decide the time frame.)” Once they’ve answered then follow up with, “what did you do about that.” This changes the nature of the conversation and allows you to get to a deeper conversation.
Networking is a great concept but it needs to be put into action as connecting with purpose. There are benefits to having meaningful connections in your life and when you are a person of interest, you add value in every conversation, you are intentional and you ask great questions…you will build wide connections that open doors in your life and your career.