The Golden Rule of Successful Networking…and the big mistake 99% most people make…
Do you feel uncomfortable about the idea of going out there and networking? Are you networking but don’t really seem to be getting any real benefit from it?
If like many people, you don’t enjoy the idea of networking because you feel awkard “putting yourself out there”, talking to people you don’t know, or coming across as pushy or salesy, this first golden rule of successful networking should come as a big relief.
If you’re out there networking already and just don’t seem to be generating any new business form your efforts, then I’m perhaps about to shed light on where you could be going wrong, along with the other 99% of mislead networkers…
Successful networking has absolutely nothing to do with trying to sell to other people. This is SO important, I’m going to say it again: “Successful networking has absolutely NOTHING to do with trying to sell to other people”
Ironically, the people who get the best results from their networking have already figured out that it’s actually not about them or their products and services. On the contrary, successful networking is first and foremost about the OTHER people in the room, and what you can do for THEM.
Possibly THE most important thing you can do to prepare for a successful networking session is to understand and adopt the right mindset; which is to focus on “what can you give” to people you meet, rather than “what you can get.”
If you network with people, online or face-to-face, with an expectation of selling to that person, your results from Networking will be terrible, and you’ll fall flat at the first hurdle!
Fruitful business connections are made when you seek to add value first, without expecting something back in return. When you become more experienced at networking, you’ll quickly become amazed at how the vast majority of people are on a mission to sell you something. These people dive in to a long-winded monologue and immediately try to get you interested in them, what they do and why you should buy from them, or work with them, as they thrust their business card in to your hand. Sadly, these people don’t know what you and I do, they don’t realise that unless they first show us that they care ABOUT US as a person, we are never going to care what they think they can DO for us or SELL us as a client.
What you are really selling at a networking event (whether online or offline)….is NOT your products…NOT your services. Your one and only priority should be to ‘sell’ YOU! Actually, I don’t like to use the word “sell” in relationship to anything. It’s a personal point of view, but the word ‘Sales’ has negative connotations for me, it conjures up notions of ‘hard-selling’ and being pushy. I prefer to replace the word “Sell” with ‘Serve’. When I enter a room, or an online group, or start talking to someone, I am always searching for ways to understand other people better, to discover THEIR needs and find a way that I might be able to help them. By this, I don’t mean help them by selling them my services or products, it could be about connecting them to someone I know, pointing them in the direction of a useful resource, or sending them some helpful information. This is THE key to anything successful in business, and indeed in life…seek fist to understand and ONLY then to be understood.
Remember, even if you can’t help someone directly with what they need in their business journey, perhaps you can refer them to someone who can. Whatever you want to call it “Paying it Forward”, “Reap to Sow”, operating from this place of being GENUINELY interested in finding opportunities to help others in their business journey, from a place of ‘service’ is so much more empowering, warm, and connecting. It is very rare these days to meet people that are genuinely looking for ways to help others, without expecting something in return. This will definitely help you to stand out from the crowd and build that all important, genuine, connection with others.
So remember, the first Golden Rule of successful networking is to make your networking sessions about relationship building NOT selling.
There are many examples of how you could potentially ‘help’ other people you meet at a networking event, but there is one universal way in which you can serve any person at any event, which is guaranteed to start building your relationship with them in the most genuine way possible and in a matter of minutes…
…It’s easy and will make you stand out from everyone else no matter how noisy or busy the networking event…
…it’s something you can do at any point, to anyone, it will have a profound impression and it won’t cost you a single penny…
…have you guessed yet?…
…you just need to LISTEN!
99% of people just don’t know how to listen! Now I don’t mean the usual kind of listening most people do, where they’re simply waiting their turn to talk. I don’t mean the kind of listening, where all the while you’re hearing the other persons’ words, you’re actually preparing what you’ll say next. I’m not talking about ‘passive’ listening where you simply go through the motions of listening to the words and shaking your head and smiling in all the right places.
I’m talking about a more powerful form of listening, where not only are you listening and processing what the other person is saying, looking for clues in their body language about how they are feeling, listening for what they are ‘not’ saying, you are also asking that person questions about them. When you ask somebody else questions, and show a genuine interest in them you’ll be surprised to see how they start to relax and open up and enjoy being in your company.
By being genuinely interested and curious in the other people in the room, being on a mission to see how you can serve and help these people, you’ll find that the networking session is not only more enjoyable, but you will make a far greater number of authentic connections with people, who in turn will be genuinely interested in finding out about you.
Now doesn’t that take the pressure off!? No need to prepare a big long monologue, no need to try and impress other people, no need to worry about coming across as being pushy, arrogant or salesy.
The first step to being successful in networking is to come from a place of ‘serving others first’ and the most effective and easiest starting point is to begin by listening and taking a genuine interest in finding out all about them.
Of course, your turn will come, so it’s good to have something captivating to tell them when the inevitable question comes back to you “So, enough about me, what do YOU do?”…but then that’s another article…!
Come and practice your networking skills the easy way, and check out the magical results you’ll get connecting with like-minded business women at our “MORE THAN Networking” events for women in business in London and Sussex. When we leave our events, we have all become each others’ Ambassadors, and we all experience the true power of networking through leveraging our time, connections and impact…the easy way!