02 Aug Networking is About What You Give
Ultimately, we network to increase our businesses. Whether it is for brand recognition, new customers, or expanded opportunities, we want to grow. But, the process of networking itself? What should be your immediate objective be? It should be to give. If you go to an event to pitch your product, that is called selling, not networking. Networking is connecting, and connecting works best when you are giving to others not seeking to take from them.
Recently I had two very different “network experiences” which brought this simple truth into focus. Two phone calls. The first was with someone I was introduced to by a “mutual friend.” The guy produces a podcast. I manage speakers. Possible synergy, I thought. A few minutes into the call, after a very thin veil of “how can we help each other” deception lifted, I realized that I was being pitched and being pitched hard. He sells slots on his podcast and was I a buyer? The moment it was clear that I was not in the imminent market to purchase air time, he said something to the effect of “I don’t have a lot of time to waste, I thought we were talking because you need my services.” I agreed it was time to hang up…but then came what I think was his idea of networking, he said, “If you know someone who DOES want to be on my podcast, you can tell them to contact me. You have my e-mail.” Bwa-ha-ha! Seriously? I would never refer anyone to him and in fact, I can’t even recall his name at this point.
Second call was just this morning. I met a keynote speaker via LinkedIn. We realized that business-wise, we were not an immediate, direct fit, but we found common ground. She was so comfortable in her own skin and so giving. She spent thirty minutes thinking of ways she could connect me to others and help my business. It was like sitting down for coffee with an old friend…We explored each others’ business models, markets and future intentions. It is obvious that she puts her customers first. After our short meeting, I would feel confident recommending others contact her. After a half hour, we each went our own way, but our conversation has been at the top of my mind all day. I have been thinking of people whom I can connect her with and possible speaking gig connections… All she did was give and now I am determined to give back. At first blush, one might think that such discussions, where there is no immediate or obvious reward, aren’t useful, but I believe the opposite.