We all know that networking is an important part of business. Whether you are in an organization or a business owner, networking is a critical factor that cannot be ignored. It’s all about relationship and relationship building.
For some, it is a piece of cake and for others, it is often dreaded. One way to help networking feel less daunting is to have the mindset that it is really all about the other person. It is not about you. If you are focused on what you want to say or what you need to accomplish, the focus is on you and it can get in the way. Change the way you do it. It is about making a connection with the other person. Make it about building relationships, meeting new people, getting to know one another. Not about what I can do for you or what you can do for me. Be genuinely interested in the other – be authentic. Step outside of yourself and focus on them. Think about how you feel when someone is genuinely interested in you.
It is about building relationships – not selling. Take the “I have to sell” piece out of the equation and just be interested in the other person. Find something interesting about them. Make a connection and follow up. (BTW, LinkedIn is a great way to do a first step follow-up.) When you are letting go of any preconceived goal or strategy that you have to accomplish some business goal and let your strategy be “meet and greet”, the pressure is relieved and a potential relationship can build. Who knows what can follow. Once the relationship has begun, you and the other person will learn what business services and opportunities exist.
Try imagining or visualizing yourself successfully connecting and feel how it would be after having met someone interesting and you have had a great conversation. You may be stepping out of your comfort zone, so think of when you have been comfortable in other situations and bring that to the current situation.
And, of course, the art of building self-awareness comes into play. Be aware of whether the little voice inside has decided if someone is approachable or if they are someone with whom you can connect. Awareness of your thoughts, beliefs, and following behaviors is a key factor. I suggest thanking the little voice for sharing and put it aside, so you can go forward and meet the other person, make it about them. After all, it is all about connecting and building relationships.
Think about some of the business relationships you currently enjoy and how they came about. We’d love to hear your stories of how the connection was made and once it was, how easy the relationship continued to grow.