“Sometimes, idealistic people are put off the whole business of networking as something tainted by flattery and the pursuit of selfish advantage. But virtue in obscurity is rewarded only in Heaven. To succeed in this world you have to be known to people.” – Sonia Sotomayor
In a sales training many moons ago we were told that networking is more about what you can offer the other person, not what they can do for you. It may be the best piece of “sales” advice I ever received. Selling Cutco, the worlds best cutlery, was my full time college job at the time. Even if you don’t like their products…they really are the best and mine is still used daily… you can’t argue with the success of their sister sales company Vector Marketing.
How Can I Help You?
When you are genuinely interested in another person – their goals, their dreams, what scares them, what they do now, what they want to do someday – and you remember what they are telling you…that’s the important bit…you are then able to connect two people, or a group of people someday down the line to help them achieve their goals.
That One Guy That Did That One Thing…Remember?
Above I mentioned that the important bit of networking is actually remembering what a person is telling you. How you can help them? How might they be able to help you someday in the future? This is where I suggest putting technology to work for you. Your cell phone has the ability to store a tremendous amount of information. Over 3000 contacts are in my iPhone from all over the world, from close friends to people I’ve met on airplanes.
Say you have met a nice fella on a plane. You’ve traded stories. You’ve learned a lot about each other in 3-4 hours of banter. But what good was that interaction, other than passing the time, if you can’t connect with that person in the future?
If You Only Remember Two Things From This Post
First, you can’t be afraid to ask people for their information. Almost everyone will give you at least their email if you ask in an I-swear-I-am-not-an-axe-murderer kind of way.
Secondly, and just as important….don’t just save that person in your phone as “Joe”. 6 months from now you will have no idea who Joe was. I suggest you save it as “Joe – Flight to San Jose – April 17 – Lives in Philly, PA – Moving to Costa Rica Someday – Loves Hiking – Retiring Soon – IT Professional”.
See the difference?
Now all of that information is searchable. The next time you are at a dinner party and someone mentions needing an IT guy, or you find yourself in Pennsylvania, you know somebody.
Fun Fact: This is Joe. I just met him on a flight from Charlotte to San Jose, Costa Rica…and he really is from Pennsylvania.
The bottom line here is that you don’t have to go to mind numbing “networking events” to build your circle of contacts… I would rather gouge my eyes out with a rusty spoon. You can be networking all day, every day. It can be a natural part of your life.
There are only 3 requirements:
- You have to be curious.
- You have to ask questions.
- You have to listen.
Go into every conversation with focus…on the other person. It’s simple, it isn’t a “job”, and it’s the easiest way to help your friends, family and business associates get further ahead.
And history would dictate that helping your friends, family and associates achieve more, will help you achieve more as well.
PS: If you need an IT fella from Pennsylvania… I know a guy.
See you on the journey.
*Edited from original work – 11/30/18