You’ve been trying to hit as many networking events as possible, but you feel like you’re not making the most of them. Sound a familiar? If your focus is on you, and not the people you’re meeting, you’ve actually been missing the point.
Often, when we attend networking events, there’s a sense of anticipation of endless contacts and a constant stream of new leads. We attend cocktail parties and industry forums armed with business cards and we’re ready to spring a sales pitch on the first poor prospect to show even a tiny smidgen of interest. And then, of course, we are disappointed when big things don’t seem to come out of these events.
The problem with this approach is that whenever one sets out with a mindset of “what’s in it for me?” one is bound for failure.
Some of the world’s most successful networking organisations have thrived precisely because the members have a different focus. Instead of considering what they can get out of it, they each ask, “What can I give?”
For example, BNI, which markets itself as the world’s biggest word of mouth referral organisation, has built its success on the fact that members refer each other to useful contacts. Each member tries to put other members in touch with people who can benefit from their business services or products.
If you’re like most people, when you’re attending a networking function and someone introduces themselves, you probably don’t immediately think about whether there are opportunities for them to benefit from your network, even if you don’t have a particular need for their product or service yourself.
Spreading the love
Don’t feel guilty – you are not alone. In fact, research suggests that people think about themselves and their own needs 95% of the time. It’s not a natural state to spend the majority of our time thinking about what we can do for other people.
But this means that even if you start thinking of other people 6% of the time (instead of 5%), you will be at an advantage over other people.
Why is thinking of others an advantage? Well, aside from making you a more selfless person, you are actually likely to benefit more. Yes, it’s a bit of a paradox.
But in my experience, the more you give, the more you receive. Living abundantly and giving without expecting anything in return is not just a kinder, more fulfilling way to live, but a good networking principle too.
Although it sounds backwards, the more you start to think about other people, the deeper your network relationships will grow. And, you’ll start to find that when you do a good turn for someone else, they may just do the same for you when you least expect it.