MAKE SURE YOU'RE PLAYING SANTA?
Let's visit what the sleigh-driver himself can teach us about networking.
On the shuttle bus from the Tampa Bay airport to the hotel I was staying at, I briefly exchanged pleasantries with the lady sitting beside me. Turns out we were not attending the same conference, nor were we even staying at the same hotel, we did not hail from the same Province/State or even the same Country.
It would have been easy to stop the conversation right there, after all, we would never see each other again. However, we quickly discovered we both have a passion about working with women entrepreneurs, me through creating communities for women to connect and build their businesses through networking, marketing and strategizing, and her as a Professor who specializes in it. We scribbled down contact information and we met the following day for dinner.
What was amazing is almost at the exact same time at dinner we both asked, “ how I can help you with your business”. Within 2 hours, not only did we enjoy a nice meal and make a new friend, but we both had pages of notes, ideas and information to walk away to better what we do and how we do it.
Unfortunately I see it too often that people wear the “I” hat when it comes to networking and building their business. I need more clients and I will get some from this networking event I need to tell people about me and my business I need to set up meetings as this will lead to more billable hours and cash flow.
While all of this could be very true, when it comes to building a real, vital network, this approach is horribly, horribly wrong. Let me put it in a different light and give you a real example.
For a moment, think of right before Christmas and the line up at the mall with all kids waiting to see Santa. What does every kid do? They wait, sometimes even for hours. When the get to him they invade his personal space, tell them what they want, sometimes even giving a list so he doesn’t forget. Santa, in return, offers re-assurance, a candy cane, and lovingly waves goodbye only to start the process all over again with the next kid in line!
Well, the kid doesn’t know it, but in that relationship he is a taker! However, when you are 5 you can get away with it. But what about as adults? We all know of that family member or friend who is a taker. Every time you hear from them you wonder, ‘now what do they want’? Imagine people feeling that way about you when you are networking. Do you really think they are going to be happy to see you or send business your way just so you can harass their friends and family? Likely not.
When you network, you need to be engaging and interesting. You are marketing yourself, not your product or service. Look at networking as a means to build true connections, friends and business associates. Treat the person you’re speaking too the same way you want to be treated and I promise you, in fact I absolutely guarantee you, good things will happen!