“The successful networkers I know, the ones receiving tons of referrals and feeling truly happy about themselves, continually put the other person’s needs ahead of their own”
A current business buzz word is “networking”. To be successful in your career or business, networking is considered a vital tool.
So what is networking and does it really work? I once attended a training course where networking was the topic. We were told that the way to network successfully was to attend an event and take 50 business cards with you, work the room handing out your business card and collecting the other person’s card, before moving onto the next person. Your success was gauged by how many business cards you collected. I was horrified at such an approach and argued that this would not work because it was all about what’s in it for them and offered nothing to others. I was derided by the presenter.
How would you react to such an approach?
Would the person handing out the cards ever consider your needs?
As the Bob Burg implies in his quote above, putting other people’s needs before yours will make you a more successful networker. Heiner Karst in his Let’s Talk Coaching blog on networking defines networking as “the building and maintaining of relationships that lead to opportunities for all parties. It works with the right attitude and is based on such “laws” as law of reciprocity or clichés like “what goes around, comes around”’. (http://www.letstalkcoaching.com/1990/what-you-want-to-know-about-networking-a-sixology)
Here is a great networking example.
I have a friend I met whilst undertaking a course over 25 years ago. We kept in contact and bounced ideas off each other and this lead to:
• him joining a company I was working for at that time
• this lead in turn to him recommending I undertake further studies as he had done.
• he subsequently changed employment, which lead to the establishment of a new business where I became involved. His employer’s services were outsourced reducing their costs and improving their service levels.
• my further studies opened up the opportunity of casual post-graduate lecturing in Asia for an Australian university as well as a new full time career opportunity
• my friend was in Singapore and had several of his staff enrolled in the post graduate program.
• whilst this was occurring, the new business in which I was a major shareholder grew significantly
• last year we decided to sell the business. We contacted him in Hong Kong where he was residing and he recommended a buyer – this proved successful and they purchased the company
• he is now in contact with the business agent who assisted us selling our business and this is now leading to opportunities for both parties in Asia.
All this was achieved through maintaining a relationship, and looking after other’s needs, before your own and not burning bridges.
When I started up a new business there were several people in my consulting network who gave freely of their time and expertise to help me. (http://www.smartcompany.com.au/leadership/professional-development/35254-hate-networking-stop-trying-to-get.html)
They put my needs ahead of their own and showed a genuine interest in my business. They have since been “repaid” as I have been able to engage them to work on some of my business projects – “what goes around comes around”.
Consider networking as helping others because they in turn, will help you.
So next time you wish to network, what will be your approach…………?