“Networking” has become just a buzzword and we have lost sight of what is really behind networking – relationships. We have forgotten that your network isn’t the goal, but yet the relationship. My various encounters over the past few weeks has inspired this post to encourage others to go beyond the benefits and build lasting relationships.
Forget the network. Remember the relationship.
People often dive into networking thinking, how can this individual benefit me? That sort of thinking ruins the relationship immediately and inevitably destroys the network. Just recently I was approached at a holiday event and charity drive by a woman who immediately asked “where do you work?” There was no proper greeting, no introduction or even an exchange of smiles. I immediately lost interest in the possibility of a relationship being formed. I properly greeted her, told her my name, what I do, asked for hers and then politely walked away.
For some, approaching people may not be the easiest task. Food for thought – if you forget the network (the benefits for you) and just focus on genuinely getting to know the person, the approach will be that much easier. This leads to my next point…
Shared interests and values
To build a relationship, you must understand each other’s interests and values. More than likely you will share a similar interest with the person you are trying to connect with. To get to know what that interest might be, you have to be personable and authentic. Authenticity and even transparency (no that does not mean you have to bear everything on the table) will make the conversation easier.
The follow up
Follow up with the person that you share interests and values. Your follow up should consist of more than “it was a pleasure meeting you!” If through email or a personal hand written note, let them know why it was so great meeting them and always provide a call to action – maybe a follow up lunch or coffee to continue the conversation. The follow up will be the beginning of building an actual relationship, which will be more beneficial to your network.