It’s a message I share with my clients and audiences over and over again: good networking is an attitude, not an event. It’s about treating all people, all conversations with respect and grace, even if you’re not sure what – if anything – will come from it. From there, things often fall into place, especially if you do your part (following up, for example).
For instance, have you ever had a seemingly random conversation that turned into a hugely important relationship or offered you an insight that helped you solve a problem or move closer to something you were trying to achieve? Think of all the stories of people who met randomly, fell in love, and got married. It works the same way with networking. If you think of everyday life as your networking event, it’s amazing what can happen.
Along those lines, here’s an email I received from a member of a leadership group who heard me speak last spring.
“From personal networking experience, I think there is much to be said about doing the right thing for the right reasons and trusting that things will work out in the long run. Last year during [our organization’s retreat], I bonded with a young woman over our mutual fear of heights during the ropes course. She’s simply a good person who has developed into one of my best friends. I had no idea (nor did I care at the time) that she was extremely well-connected. She has spent the last year singing my praises, which has opened all manner of doors for me…Life’s Big Moments do not often have a neon sign advertising them as such.”
How interesting that this person bonded with someone over a mutual fear! Talk about transparency! And it ended up blossoming into a very rewarding connection. It elegantly illustrates the point that you just never know when, where, how, why, or with whom you will make a connection that turns into a fruitful relationship. And one that pays off!
One more story: My son recently had the pleasure of watching a football game from a very frou-frou private suite. (This sort of thing happens to him a lot.) When he told me about it, I asked him how he earned such an awesome invitation. “Mom, I’m just nice to people.”
Go out on a limb this week. Put your smart phone away (or pick it up and dial it!) and have a conversation with someone you don’t know very well. Make it pleasant and friendly- and with no ulterior motives. Just get to know them. Make small talk, offer a tidbit of advice, or solve one of the world’s many problems. Then see what comes of it. At worst, you’ll brighten someone’s day. At best, you could be making a very important connection. You just never know.
Networking is indeed an attitude, not an event.
My next few weeks are full of fun presentations and events: an opening keynote at a conference in Napa for marketing professionals; a presentation to a group of fundraising executives; the trial run of a new speech to a group of event planners; and a panel-moderating assignment with my fellow professional speakers. No two presentations or assignments are ever exactly the same! Hey! Why don’t you and I talk about how we can work together. Drop me a line at patti[at]intentionalnetworker[dot]com and let me know what you want to accomplish.