Friday, May 6, 2016

The Power of Networking

It's not what you know, it's who you know.  We've all heard that saying before and have seen it in action many times.

Networking in its purest form is a group of people getting together in some form of fellowship with a goal of helping each other.  It doesn't always work like that, but as with anything it's what you make of it.

For some it is a chance to have a few drinks on the company's dime.  For some it is a chance to pass out and gather as many business cards as they can.  For some it is a tough choice between attending an event and death. There will probably be a few pros who know everyone in the room.  There may be some ego strokers there as well.  And others are forced to be there.  There are lots of events out there and lots of reasons why people choose to attend them.  But what do we REALLY get out of these events?

For me, as with most things, I just try to keep it simple.  I look for events at venues or about topics that I'd be interested in.  That gives you an easy talking point right off the bat.  My goals (are you sitting down?) are to get to know a few people, learn something from each of them, and see if I can help them somehow (note I didn't say sell them something or help me somehow). People are fascinating.  Everyone has a story. 

But what really comes from those events?  You're talking about focusing on others.  My favorite radio station is WIIFM!!!

Good question.  Thanks for asking.  Well, as it turns out, if you actually connect with someone and sincerely try to help them you both win.  And ultimately the networking gods may pay it forward in your direction someday.  

To directly answer the question I've never closed any business by meeting someone at a networking event.  However, the power of networking goes beyond the event.  The event is a node in the chain of the network.  Follow up after the event and who knows what could happen.  Some of my best friends I met at a networking event.  Some of them are power connectors.  Some of them became clients eventually.  Some of them referred clients to me.  Some of them became mentors.  I met my business partner at a networking event (yep as of April my team doubled in size from 1 to 2).  So I guess A LOT has come from networking for me.

Networking can be as powerful as you let it be.  Don't force it.  Just relax and enjoy yourself. My $0.02 is if you're trying to build relationships and ultimately do business with people, you might as well just focus on hanging out with interesting people while you're there.  Find events you're interested in and try to engage with a few people that seem cool.

Networking is extremely powerful and doesn't need to be intimidating.  It's not what you know it's who you know.  We've all seen it action.  Wouldn't it be great to see it in action for you instead of someone else?

If I can help you in some way let me know.