While I was doing research for a book that I am working on, I came across this quote, left by a survey participant. “I am very tired of networking for the sake of networking I find nothing to hook onto. Everyone talks, there is nothing to happen, nothing happens.” This is not an uncommon sentiment, I have heard it time and again from people who are running around doing willy-nilly networking. Networking without a plan and a system can be frustrating.
I have broken the statement down and offered 4 techniques that would turn this persons experience of networking from a waste of time to a successful use of time.
1. “I am tired of networking for the sake of networking” Networking for the sake of networking is a waste of time. I can certainly understand why one would feel tired of networking if they are going to events with no goals or intention set before attending. Set a goal prior to attending the event, how many people do you need to meet, whom do you want to meet, what professions are you looking to connect with, all of these are reasonable goals for a networking event. I often use a 3×5 card to jot down my networking goals. Once I have met the goal I know I am now free to leave or just socialize.
2. “I find nothing to hook on to” A simple change of mind set is needed here. Instead of looking for something for yourself, shift your mindset to “Givers Gain”. Start thinking about how you might be able to help others in the room. That simple mindset will completely change the way that you approach each person and you will find that there are many opportunities to “hook onto”.
3. “Everyone talks” Often at networking events I feel like it is a bunch of televisions talking to one another. No one is listening. Next time you are at an event and the room has gotten loud ask the person you are trying to have a conversation with to step away from the crowd, then begin to ask them questions allowing them to talk while you listen. People want to be heard unfortunately there are not enough of us listening.
4. “Nothing to happen,nothing happens” There may be some unreal expectations set here. What kind of things are you expecting to happen at a networking event? Realistically it is an opportunity to meet people and find ways to build a deeper relationship. Until there is a relationship built on mutual trust, likely there will be little happening. Unfortunately most people go to networking events with unrealistic expectations, when building a business by referral you must be willing to invest time in your network.
Good networking requires a plan, a follow up system, and time. Do you have a plan? Are you working it?