I did and I don’t anymore. I’ll tell you why. Back in the day when I was first building my business – networking, networking was all I heard. Everyone from my coach to the receptionist at the local Chamber of Commerce office told me the same thing. If I wanted to be successful in business I had to get myself out there and network.
Why was it that every time I heard the advice, I bristled and wanted to run back to the safety of my home office? For some reason, the idea of networking utterly turned me off. It made me wonder – if networking was the key to business success then perhaps I should consider throwing in the entrepreneurial towel.
I suspect I’m not alone here. Many clients I work with express the same distaste and resistance to what seems like a simple mission. See if you can relate to the following common reasons smart business people (me included) come up with to avoid networking.
I don’t like putting myself “out there”.
I’m too busy.
My associates will think I have an ulterior motive when I approach them.
I’m not comfortable in groups of people.
Everyone I know knows the same people so why bother?
These no-networking-for-me-thank-you-very-much universal laments do seem like valid excuses. After all, why would anyone want to put them self in a deliberately uncomfortable position? Here’s a good reason – these excuses are all based on one critical misconception: That networking is about YOU.
Yes, you heard me right. Excuses and resistance comes up when you’re only thinking about you. In truth, the fun begins when you see that networking is NOT about you, it’s about other people and building relationships with them. Anytime you enter an opportunity to network primarily concerned with, “What’s in it for me?” then you’re bound to feel less than exuberant.
Here are five tips to transforming networking into an enjoyable relationship building activity.
1. First and foremost, adopt the perspective that networking is an opportunity to get out, make new connections and build relationships. Entrepreneurs tend to be isolated, perhaps even work alone. Opportunities to be with other entrepreneurs can be supportive in many ways. Remember you’re not alone. The person on the other side of the room is most likely feeling what you’re feeling and would probably benefit from the connection as well.
2. Be prepared. Have a well-developed “elevator speech” ready to go. 80% of what makes new entrepreneurs anxious at public events is lack of confidence speaking about their business. Once you have that part of the conversation nailed, you can then focus on listening.
3. Share knowledge. Be an information aggregator and disseminator. Offer what you know. It’s both attractive and offers value. Why not let others profit from your knowledge as much as you do? It helps you stand out from the pack and feels darn good when you can genuinely add value to someone’s life.
4. Adopt the philosophy, “What goes around, comes around”. Focus on what you can do for others rather than what they can do for you. Perhaps you can solve a problem or you know someone who can assist. Don’t go in with an ulterior motive to “sell”. Instead remember these simple four words, How can I help?” It feels great to help, and if business in generated, all the better.
5. Keep you word. Can you remember a time where someone promised you something and then didn’t deliver? It certainly doesn’t feel good. Don’t do that to others. If you make a connection at a networking event and promise to send someone literature about your product, do it quickly. If you tell a new contact your associate will call them make sure to follow up.
What will your next step be? Are you ready to join me as a former networking resistor and begin building your powerful business relationships one person at a time?
It’s YOUR life…imagine the possibilities!
Helaine Iris helps overwhelmed small business owners take control of their time and finances so they can double their revenues with less stress. Featured in numerous publications, including “O” The Oprah Magazine Helaine’s dynamic, personal coaching style helps entrepreneurs accelerate their businesses with tools that empower, build financial success and create personal transformation. To receive a free copy of her report Learn How to Finally Break Through Overwhelm, and Become a Prosperous, Stress-Free Business Owner, go to http://www.pathofpurpose.com/thank-you-for-requesting-your-free-report/