How are your networking skills?
If you’re like many people (sales professionals excluded), just the word “networking” makes you cringe a little.
So, let me rephrase the question.
Do you only keep to your small circle of friends, family, and acquaintances?
Or, do you make an honest effort to branch out now and then?
Do you go out of your way to meet new people for the sake of building professional and/or personal relationships?
Although the word can inspire some fear, anxiety, and general feelings of discomfort for some, networking really isn’t all that bad.
Plus, it’s an extremely important tool for anyone looking to start, maintain, or grow a business.
“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”~ Brene Brown
The simple definition of networking is: “Interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.”
But, let’s break this down a little so it doesn’t sound so stuffy.
It’s really about making meaningful connections.
It’s about getting to know people – and letting them get to know you – so you can get connected (ideally through a warm introduction) with people who could benefit from your talents and strengths.
Yes, it’s partially about finding potential leads for the products or services that you offer. However, it’s also about meeting people who might offer products and services that could be beneficial to you – both personally and professionally.
If you go out there thinking you are only going to talk business, and you’re going to push what you have to offer harder than you’ll listen to what others bring to the table, you will absolutely miss out on a lot of opportunities.
You have to go into each interaction with an open mind, an open ear, and an understanding that you might walk away having given more than you received.
And that’s okay. In fact, the more open you are to letting conversations go wherever they need to go, the more likely you’ll be to find the people and opportunities that will be most beneficial to you in the long run.
“Networking is simply the cultivating of mutually beneficial, give and take, win-win relationships. It works best, however, when emphasizing the “give” part.”~Bob Burg
So go ahead, introduce two professionals you know can help each other move forward with their goals. Hire someone you meet (that’s qualified, of course) to help you with something you “can” do, but shouldn’t be spending your time on.
And, expect nothing in return.
Let the universe do its thing, and you may be pleasantly surprised by what you ultimately get back from simply making meaningful connections.
So, get out there and do some networking this week – and try to have FUN with it!