Look, everybody does it. It's the hard and fast rule of business — to succeed in the marketplace, you need to get out there and shake some hands. Motivate the masses. Network with the crowds. Well, I say that's wrong.
Networking is a very impersonal, awkward, and most of the time, unsuccessful process professionals go through to meet someone and get something from the person they meet. Whenever I hear the term 'networking', I think of a slimy used-car salesman in a seersucker suit, white belt, and white shiny shoes. Yuck!
I like to CONNECT. What's the difference between connecting and networking?
Networking: Ingratiating yourself into someone's space, telling them all about you, and asking for help, an item, or service from them.
Connecting: Meeting someone (preferably with an introduction), asking questions about them, listening to their response, asking more questions, and then offering help, an item, or service TO them. While asking questions, you find a subtle (or overt) area to make a connection —where they live, what they do, where they went to school, anything. Connecting happens in the moment.
The difference? You Ask Questions, Listen, and Give Them something. Not the other way around. It's called Seeding. You plant seeds when you connect — they germinate and grow, and someday that person will be doing something for you. It's not deceptive, it's reciprocal. You do something for them, they do something for you.
What's the biggest reason why you should Connect and not Network? When you network, once the person realizes that the conversation is all about you and what they can do for you — a wall of glass goes up. The person immediately knows that you want something from them. And they endeavor to slowly extricate from the interaction. I see this happen ALL the time. It used to happen to me.
In addition, the fastest way to connect with that person is to turn the conversation towards them, learn more about them, understand their situation, their needs, and their problems/obstacles. You are then in a prime position to focus in on their needs and deliver a personalized solution.
Tomorrow, in Part Two, I will show you HOW to connect. It's easy, simple to do, and best of all, FUN.