Grossed Out! The Unlikely Death of Networking

Business Networking

Ask anyone in business where they get their best customers and somewhere in the first few sentences you’ll hear “word of mouth”. Ask anyone, anywhere how they found their favorite restaurant and it will likely be by referral. Even our best friends are often the result of meeting through others.

 

What you’ve just witnessed is the power of networking in tbe lives of people. And yet, everywhere you turn, networking is under siege. Local Chambers of Commerce are eliminating networking at an alarming rate. Some network marketing companies are giving networking a blemish, and major publications and business experts decry networking as an evil means to an end. It isn’t hard to find someone cheerfully announcing the death of networking.

 

And it comes as no surprise. For many, networking isn’t something that comes naturally. It’s awkward walking into a room full of people and finding your place. In the grocery line we do our best to keep our eyes on our carts to avoid a chance meeting with someone we don’t know.   Networking is, as one person recently told me, “As foreign to me as brain surgery”.

 

In a recent article on FastCompany.com, Samantha Cole leads with “Why Networking Makes You Feel Physically Gross”. It seems that all that discomfort you’ve been feeling when networking is manifesting itself physically in a not-so-good way. Perhaps you’ve felt it.

 

The article sites a University of Toronto study that finds we feel “icky” after networking. It goes on to surmise that networking forms relationships based on our, “…dirtiest motivations: Money and power.” More on that in a moment, but first, let’s dig a bit deeper into the study.

 

While the article doesn’t tell us specifically who participated in the study, it does conclude that people playing fill in the gaps word games are more likely to come up with words like “wash”, “soap”, and “shower” after what they refer to as “selfish networking moments.” You can read the complete article here: http://bit.ly/1q6MM3F

 

Further, they asked a whopping 165 lawyers about their networking habits and found that those who were most powerful were “less grossed out” by networking than those who were less powerful.  Notice the inference is that they were all grossed out, just those with power were “less grossed out”.

 

But perhaps the most telling line in the article is found in the final paragraph. It suggests you’ll feel “less slimy” if you “change your perspective—and your approach—to finding connections that genuinely do interest you beyond professional gain.”

 

This is where so many get genuine networking wrong. They just can’t help but come back to it being all about themselves. Notice the article suggests you find people interested in you, not you finding people you are interested in. Is this any less sincere? Isn’t this just as “dirty” a motive?

 

You can’t feel “less slimy” when you are focusing on yourself. Genuine networking is interested in self, but consumed with others. When you know how to be genuine in your networking endeavors, you approach each meeting , whether in a room full of people or in the grocery check-out with a genuine interest in others and a servant heart. You know that you will get what you need by helping others get what they want.

 

And here’s a news alert for you: Money and power aren’t intrinsically “dirty”. While there are those who obtain money and power illegitimately, more often money is a measure of service you’ve provided. Those with power in a community earn it through service. It never fails, serve others and they’ll reward you. If you’ll only focus on serving others they will cheerfully give you everything you need.

 

Which brings us back to the beginning. Where do you go to find what you need? Serve others and the answers will appear. And since most people are interested in themselves and their needs, there is a big opportunity out there for those who have a servant heart. Networking to find what people need and how you can help them get it is the best way to find your place of service.

 

So while figures and studies continue to confirm networking’s death, there will still be those who know the truth: Networking, genuine networking, is alive and well and will be for as long as humans communicate.


Why Networking is a Waste of Time

If you think you’ll build your business this year by doing more networking, think again. Nearly all time networking is time wasted.

handshakeYou might not think the author of three books on networking would say networking is a waste of time, but after twenty years of studying networking, after attending and facilitating over 3000 networking events, and after hearing over 10,000 networking self introductions in just one year alone, I’m comfortable telling you most networking is a waste of time.

Why is networking a waste of time?  Networking is just a vehicle.  Like the automobile in your driveway, the vehicle itself wastes most of its time sitting.  It may look good, it might even bring some admirers, but until you get behind the wheel and drive the car, it goes no place.

And neither will you if all you do is network.  Networking provides the vehicle to connect one with people and resources needed to solve problems.  Truly effective networking is the vehicle you should use to solve the problems your friends and acquaintances have.  This is when networking is useful.

Too many people go to networking events to sell their stuff.  They foolishly look at the room and think of all the people in the room they might sell.  That’s not networking, that’s one-to-one selling.  It’s like your car in the driveway.  It may look good, but only you can use it.  You might sell it once to someone else, but that’s the extent of its value.  Only the best equipped sales person is successful in this type of “networking”.

Some “networkers” walk in the room and think, “This will be a great resource for referrals.”  As they meet people they explain what they do and cleverly ask, “Who do you know that I should meet?”  They get leads and perhaps even a sale, but once again the focus is on them.  It’s just like a car you wish to sell, you can ask everyone if they know someone who wants to buy it, but the likelihood of finding a match is slim.  You’ll get a lead only when your product or service is an exact match for someone.

But true networkers approach things differently.  They understand that the real value of networking is in building relationships.  They approach the room differently.  “I wonder whom I’ll meet that needs to know someone I know” is their frame of reference.  They give and give and give.  Like the car, instead of letting people look at it or even selling it to them, they give everyone a ride where they wish to go, free of charge.

Some people will take the ride and barely say thank you.  Like the people who look at your car, these are the takers.  You don’t want to be one of them.

Some people will take the ride and offer to buy your car.  These are the buyers.  You’ll get them either way since your product or service solves their needs.  You don’t want to target them since they’ll come either way.

Some still will offer to drive next time.  These are the givers.  And only a giver can attract a giver.  These are the people you should be seeking in the networking environment.

Givers will immediately identify you as a giver and they’ll give to you as well.  They’ll become friends.  And friends buy from and refer friends to friends.  And so do their friends.  This is what is called networking.

As you begin to refocus your efforts decide now to be a giver and a friend.  Approach networking with the intention to give and you’ll attract others who give.  And everyone will win.


The Brand You

Whether we are aware or not, each of us has a brand that is singularly ours. I recently shared some ideas on how to better develop a personal brand with a group of Jobseekers.

Free help with personal self introduction click here

Just as we all have a brand, we are all constantly seeking connection with someone. Jobseekers are seeking connection with employers. Salespeople with customers. Single people with potential spouses. While targeted at jobseekers this talk can help anyone with their personal branding. See the short video below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKD2Q-C20hY&feature=c4-overview&list=UUMYARjsZs7ePj6pLBSpC4Jg

 


Winning at Your Chamber of Commerce – Planning Your Goals and Objectives

 

Hall of Fame football coach Vince Lombardi is credited with starting each football summer camp by holding up a pigskin and declaring, “Gentlemen, this is a football.”

Success in any endeavor in life relies on understanding the fundamentals. Whether football or networking, understanding the rules and knowing the basics cold are essential to success.

It is amazing the jump in attendance most chambers of commerce will see at programs during the month of January. As we start a new year, what better time than now to reevaluate goals and objectives for attending chamber meetings. Here are a few tips to consider as you plan your year.

Handshake
Winning Business

1. Determine your ultimate goal for chamber membership. What do you hope to gain through your chamber membership? As with every other type of marketing, determine in advance what success looks like. Who do you want to meet? How many new clients do you need to receive a satisfactory return on investment of marketing dollars and time spent?

2. Know what you expect to achieve by attending an event. Most people who attend chamber programs have no real goal they expect to achieve by attending. Know your outcome before you attend so you may determine your level of success. Determining what you want from each event gives you the fundamentals you’ll need to be successful over the full year of membership.

3. Determine your rate of success for several events. You need to fill your pipeline with qualified leads and referrals to be sure, but you also need to fill your networking pipeline with quality networking partners who can introduce you to new quality leads and referrals. Determine how many qualified leads, referrals, and networking partners you gain from each event you attend.

4. Calculate how many leads and referrals equal a closed sale. You may wish to segment this into: People met, Networking Partners, Leads, Referrals, Presentations, Closed Business. Determine how many people you actually need to meet to get to the number of closed deals you need.

5. Determine the best events to attend to achieve your desired outcome. After sampling all available events and measuring the results of each, choose the one or two different events held each month that are best for you.

6. Attend regularly. Measure results. Achieve success.

If you are like most people, this sounds like a lot of work. It is. But these are the basics for success in attending and being a part of a chamber of commerce if you measure success in business closed. There are many more reasons to join your local chamber to be sure, however those who will flood the chamber in January are likely those looking for new clients.

Armed with a plan for success, you will stand out from the crowd, attract more business, have more meaningful relationships, and have a more fulfilling experience.


Jobseekers Audio 5.25.12

This is the talk I gave at Jobseekers PTC today. Dave O'Farrell and the Ships Crew do a fantastic job helping folks. Check them out at http://jobseekersptc.org/