Networking is a tricky subject. Everyone knows that they need to do it, but the very word is enough to make some people break out in a cold sweat. Visions of stick on name tags, awkward conversations and random card passing are enough to make anyone want to take a pass.
For most people, I believe that this is the wrong way to network.
In fact, here is your get out of jail free card: If you don’t want to be there it isn’t going to work. So don’t bother.
Making connections is only the first step to networking. Building relationships is the part that most people miss. And the part that makes it work.
It’s unrealistic to think you can show up, hand out your card to 50 people and then expect all of them to call you with business.
People do business with those they have relationships with.
Here’s a better way to go about it:
If you end up at a typical networking event, make it your goal to connect with 3 interesting people. Schedule a time for lunch or coffee to find out more about them and how you can help their business. If you have read the The Go Giver, this philosophy should sound familiar. Truly the more you help others, the more they will, in turn, help you.
Doing this will make your time much more effective even though you are talking to fewer people.
Or you can go with the pedicure approach.
The pedicure approach is about doing what genuinely interests you and building relationships that way.
Maybe you are into golf, skiing, art museums, music, working on cars, knitting… Find a group of people who like to do the same things as you and spend time with them. Ideally the group should be one that meets on a regular basis so that you have a chance to see the same people multiple times.
Taking clients to get pedicures can be just as effective as a networking event.
Coaching little league is networking as you get to know the parents, joining a running club is networking, all of it counts. Oddly enough, the less it feels like business, the more effective it is likely to be.
The trick is to make sure that you are doing these things consistently.
Go with the mindset that you are there to build relationships and be of service in all things that you do.
To your success!