I’m a huge proponent of attending events and networking functions where you can meet new people. These events bring together like-minded people who are looking to rub shoulders with others.
You’re probably in that boat as well. You’re wanting to meet the next Steve Jobs or Michael Dell. You know how that can impact your platform or business.
But I want to suggest we go beyond networking.
Networking only gets us so far. The typical way to network has been to go to the local Chamber of Commerce meeting or maybe it’s the Young Urban Professionals group in your neck of the woods.
Then, while there, you hock your business, try to get as many business cards as you can, and pass out even more of your business cards.
You do this so you can gain more business or maybe find someone to give you a job. It’s the way it’s always been done, right?
Maybe, yet networking is changing. It’s great to attend these events and get your name out there. But there’s more that you can do that will help you grow your platform than self promote.
How To Become A Great Networker
I think we’ve got to do something with the old networking formula. I doubt many of you like to get 50 business cards and then have to sort through them. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, especially since you’ll meet others that have no need for your service and they for yours.
We can do something better. We can be the ones helping others form connections. This is the next level of networking.
So, what does this look like?
You meet Jane. She shares that her business is selling handmade thank you notes. You’re not in the market for new thank you notes but you make a mental note of what she does.
The next day you run across Jim who just had a great experience with a customer. He wants to said out a personalized thank you card to this client.
Since you met Jane yesterday, you remember that she does special thank you notes. You then pass Jane’s information along to Jim.
You helped Jim get an awesome thank you note to thank his customer. You helped Jane get a new customer who really enjoyed her work.
This interaction between you, Jane, and Jim had nothing to do with helping yourself. Rather, you helped two other people connect and form a new business relationship.
What do you think this did for you in the eyes of Jim and Jane? You most likely became their hero, if for a brief moment. They saw you helping both of them in an area they needed. You were THE man!
Connecting others is how we begin to take networking to the next level.
So, the next time you head out to a networking event, think about how you can help others. Who can you listen to and discover their needs? Who can you connect? Who do you need to look out for?