I believe that anyone can succeed at Networking. I often find it interesting, however, that many people think they don’t have the correct personality to network effectively. After reading a multitude of marketing and networking books I think I know why: most writers denote networking as a sales process.
I don’t know about you, but when I think of sales I think of someone I want to avoid (I’m allowed to say this since I am in marketing and business development, two euphemism for sales). Because of this incorrect association between sales and networking we have created the primary issue that keeps people from networking today. The good news is that networking is not a part of the sales process. Let me explain why anyone can succeed at networking:
Social Networking Theory/Thesis:
- Relationships are the foundation of Networking. Most everyone agrees that relationships are the foundation of networking. What is exciting is that this is the basic reality that serves as the foundation for why anyone can succeed at building a strong network.
- Everyone has a God-given instinct to develop relationships. Did you know that everyone on this planet has both a desire and a need to build relationships? My oldest son could be easily classified as an introvert, yet I distinctly remember when he was in preschool how he wanted so badly to make friends with others in his class. This same instinct applies to everyone, even you.
- Most people find networking to be difficult. How is it that if networking is all about relationships and everyone has a God-given instinct to develop relationships, that most people have only experienced failure when networking?
- The SYSTEM most people think of when they think of “Networking” is flawed. Networking is actually much easier than most people think. It is about building relationships the way we designed to build relationships, simply by focusing on helping one another.
- If you simply understand the correct SYSTEM for networking it is easy. Networking is not sales, it is simply a focus on building mutually beneficial relationships. Here in lies the true key to succeeding at networking: when you focus on helping others you will gain the rewards of a network that wants to help you in return.
Networking is about building relationships, something that, as I noted above, we all have a desire and need to do anyway. When most people think about networking at an event they think about “working the room.” When I attend a networking event I instead focus on helping every person that I meet. I make introductions, I give information, and I laugh with friends. Simply put, I focus on building relationships instead of focusing on myself.
What I have always found amazing it that this type of networking is far more successful than showing up to “work the room.” The people that I would have targeted previously are now introduced to me by friends that I have helped previously. The result is a warm contact that I can follow-up with over time and build a relationship with.
How about you, are your networking relationships about helping other people, or helping yourself? If you are ready to build a network that in truly interested in seeing you succeed, you can start today by helping others to succeed.