Cathy kindly invited me to comment on networking… Travelling to much, I do get to practice a lot!
It did take a while to write this up. Thanks to a long trip from Perth, Australia to Dubai on I was able to write a draft… and then polish it from Dubai to Houston on a looong 16+ hrs flight… Here it is…
Networking is not about meeting people but about expanding your horizons wisely. Here are three basic rules to start:
We usually network because we want something from others. Define what it is. If you don’t know why you are networking, you will be unproductive. Get clear on what you want.
The rule of networking is reciprocity. Other people are networking because they want something! Define what you can give: purchases, partnerships, returns on investments, expertise, advice, mentoring, etc. Remember that the world also needs you. If you don’t know what you are offering, you will be unproductive (or worse, overpromise).
I have a genuine interest in people, but I don’t have unlimited time. I also recognize that networking does not depend on me only. Some people are desperate to take and take, or to give and give. That is not authentic, and bores immensely. Do your best to keep a balance.
To excel however, there are some unwritten rules:
4. Enjoy it!
Even if you are prepared, be open to surprises. Networking provides immense learning opportunities. Listen. Try to keep your internal conversations quiet. You don’t need to agree or disagree with what others say. Ask why, ask why a lot.
You never know the impact of your connection on the spot. Use a networking event to plant seeds and reconnect later. It is a starting point. Make notes about the people you meet on their cards so you don’t forget details.
6. Be authentic.
Don’t over praise or criticize, you are not there to judge or be judged, but to explore. You don’t need to be liked by everyone or like everyone. Be proud of your achievements and humble about your challenges.
Like everything else in life, practice makes perfect!
Don’t forget to join Cathy if you are around…