Networking isn’t about you The problem with networking is the general misunderstanding of networking as a selfish action.
"I give someone my card. I follow that up with a call/email. I remind them that if they have work, they can contact me."
There’s a lot of “I” and “me” in those statements.
Where’s the benefit to the person you’re meeting?
Unless they have an immediate, unmet need for the services you provide at that particular moment in time, then there’s likely to be little to no benefit to their connection with you.
How many approach networking with that sort of mindset? “I’m going to meet people who I might be able to get some business from” or “There will be a lot of potential business opportunities at this event,” etc?
This mindset is wrong. It’s inherently selfish. That’s why your networking attempts are likely to fail and be fruitless.
Here’s how to fix it
Stop “networking” and start “helping”
Stop thinking of your local business events as “networking opportunities” and start thinking of them as opportunities to help people. Be a giver, not a taker. Change your mindset from a selfish one to an unselfish one.
If you can provide a benefit or helping hand to someone, they’ll remember that down the road when they actually need your services. For example, who do you think will call you when they need your services?
Person A, who gave them their card and talked about all the skills they have, or Person B, who asked about their business and then followed up with a something helpful that may be of interest to them?
You’re much more likely to get a response from person B.
People are generally put off by a 20-minute uninterrupted sales pitch, so stop aiming to generate business. Instead aim to understand and help people.
How to apply this mindset
Here is an example of method A (networking) and an example of method B (helping)
Method A Gear up for “networking” — an opportunity to drum up some business. Shake hands, swap cards and talk about yourself for a bit. Then, a day or two later, follow up with an email along the lines of, “Don’t forget about me”
Method B Gear up for an opportunity to learn about other people’s interests and challenges — don’t even think of the word “networking.” Introduce yourself, shake hands, ask for their card, then ask questions about their business and what they do. (It sort of goes without saying that you need to be genuinely interested, but you should be because they are a potential new customer) Then, in a day or two, follow up with an email with something actually helpful to them.
The key takeaways
Meet people and look for ways you can help them. Understand their business, their possible problems and their challenges — and keep them in mind. Then, when you come across a helpful article, application, referral or so forth, send it to them. Don’t expect anything back in return. Be genuine. Don’t network. Try to meet and help people. If you genuinely do, the business will follow.
(extract taken from an edited version of a blog called Brazen life) To Summarise