Seattle Community

rickey gold
marketing communications
chicago, Illinois
Greatly helpful
8.0
out of 10
3 votes

The Nuances of Networking

"Networking" is a term that can turn a seemingly calm professional into a "leave me alone, I'm going home" event dropout. But because it's such a great, inexpensive marketing tool, it's well worth learning how to enjoy it.

Written Jan 31, 2008, read 2373 times since then.
Closed_info

 

Mention the word networking and you usually either get a “where and when” response or a look of “not me!”  For the latter, a networking event may be synonymous with a root canal. But it doesn’t have to be painful.  Unlike things like parenting, which you learn only when you become one, you can learn how to network.

To start off, rather than looking at networking as something you “must do”, it helps to think of it as a tool to help you grow business.  That is, actually, what it is.  It’s meeting people…. talking, sharing, discussing.  It’s not going to a function where you know you’ll be uncomfortable and passing out all of your business cards.  Nor is it seeing how many cards you can collect. 

So let’s simplify it.  Let’s take networking and break it down to its basic components..or what I’m calling nuances.

1. Networking is about meeting new people and building your network.
It’s not blatant selling.  In fact, the “in your face” salespeople are not good networkers. They turn people off.

2.  Lighten up.
Stop thinking of a networking event as something you’re forced to get through.  Instead, think of it as a chance to meet interesting people in a comfortable environment with good food and drink.  Take some of the pressure off. 

3.  You’re not being graded on this.
People are not there to see whether you’re doing a good job or not.  They don’t care. Networking events present opportunities to build your network. Period. 

4.  Learn from the pros.
There are people who love to network and do it regularly. You probably know some. They write books and newsletters. They build websites on networking. Visit their websites and read their books.

5.  Feign interest, if necessary, until you feel it.
Twelve step groups teach you to “act as if…”  Try it. Act as if you’re enjoying yourself and you may find that you are.  Sometimes it’s just getting over the fear of something new. 

6. Think of what you have to gain versus what you have to lose.
If networking didn’t work, why would there be so many networking events? Things don’t succeed if they’re failing. There must be something to gain if so many people are attending these functions. 

7.  How are you building your business? 
100% of my business comes either from client referrals or networking. It’s a lot cheaper than placing ads or running commercials.  All you need are business cards.  You don’t even have to hire anyone…. although if you do hire salespeople, you’ll want to make sure they can network as part of the job.

8.  Networking adds value.
How?  Because growing your network helps your customers.  And being able to help your customers adds value to your services.  The more people you know, the more contacts you have for services and goods.  This helps you become a resource for your customers and colleagues.  My clients know they can call me for just about anything, and I’ll probably be able to help them.  If I didn’t network, there’d be no way to do this. 

9. Networking helps you learn and grow.
Small business owners, especially, can become isolated. It’s important to stay active in your business community and in your industry. You need to be current on what’s going on that affects your business.  You need to stay on top of trends. And one of the easiest ways to do this is by networking…joining organizations, chambers of commerce, networking groups…attending events, lectures, seminars and workshops.

So, if you’ve been avoiding networking, now’s as good a time as any to give it a try. You have nothing to lose and a lot of potential business to gain.

 

Learn more about the author, rickey gold.

Comment on this article

  • Self Promotion Expert 
Hoboken, New Jersey 
Ilise Benun
    Posted by Ilise Benun, Hoboken, New Jersey | Feb 07, 2008

    Rickey, I can definitely agree with #2, Lighten Up. People get too worked up about networking. Sometimes my clients don't attend an event because they aren't feeling "in the mood." I always say, you don't have to be in the mood, you just have to be there and be open! Often, you end up talking to someone interesting and you find your mood improves naturally. Like you said, networking is not about blatant selling. You don't need to be in sell mode to attend a networking event; you simply need to be friendly and open!

  • Graphic Designer 
Frederick, Maryland 
Kimberly Dow
    Posted by Kimberly Dow, Frederick, Maryland | Feb 14, 2008

    Thanks for the article. I recently started my own business and have been starting to do a lot of networking. It was a little scary at first, but the more networking events I go to, the more comfortable I feel.

  • marketing communications 
chicago, Illinois 
rickey gold
    Posted by rickey gold, chicago, Illinois | Feb 14, 2008

    It definitely gets easier, Kimberly. And it's well worth the effort. Keep it up!

  • Financial 
Jamestown, North Carolina 
Geno Iorio
    Posted by Geno Iorio, Jamestown, North Carolina | Aug 11, 2008

    Rickey:

    Excellent article. All my thoughts repeated.

    Great info for the neophytic networker!

    Geno Iorio

  • marketing communications 
chicago, Illinois 
rickey gold
    Posted by rickey gold, chicago, Illinois | Aug 11, 2008

    Thanks, Geno. Good to know. Love "neophytic"!

Closed_info