When it comes to networking I believe that there are two very different approaches to the conversation. Many times people look at networking as an opportunity to sell themselves. They are in search of instant gratification and immediate results. How many leads did we get? How many potential sales are there? Did we pass out enough brochures or business cards? In my opinion, this is a very micro view of networking where you have a finite goal in mind. It is treating each conversation as a quick return to help your current situation. I will admit in the past I have used this strategy with less than great results. Perhaps that says something about me. It could be that people don’t like me, don’t trust what I am saying, don’t need my service, or maybe my breath smelled and they couldn’t wait to get away from me. Who knows what it was, but the results were not great. So the question is, was it me personally that was causing rejection, or was I having the wrong conversation with the wrong intention.
Lately, I have begun looking at the concept of networking more as a collector or a matchmaker and not as a sales person. Meaning, I want to take the time to get to know every person that I can to really understand them and what they do. Not to sell them on me or my products, but instead to create a portfolio or “network” of problem solvers and solution providers that can be used as a resource to help other people achieve their goals. It has been my experience that the more friends, resources, and contacts that you develop the greater the impact you can have on others around you and the more valuable you become for everyone.
This new networking idea has had a much greater level of success. Not because our sales are through the roof, but because I have been able to develop deeper relationships with people. I have been able to grow in my overall knowledge in different industries. It has allowed me to connect businesses together in ways that brought new opportunities to life. Most importantly it has created stronger relationships.
This experience has taught me that by shifting my focus from “ME” to “YOU”, “WE” become more. Zig Ziglar said it this way, “You can have everything in life that you want, if you will just help enough people get what they want.”