Building high Impact networks; A Personal Perspective.
I attended an event one time and noticed one individual going about taking as many contacts from as many people in attendance as possible. On the other hand, I slowly interacted with just a handful of people randomly.
By the end of the day, I sat to question myself if I had networked optimally and honestly I couldn’t tell. The phone contacts I had were a few and compared to the other guy, that was a drop in the ocean. But is the success of networking measured by how many contacts we can get or how we can meaningfully maintain those relationships we forge thereafter?
First, it is important to know how to open ourselves to new interactions. Just like any other endeavor, networking is something that once learned, exercised, and improved can bring us a whole new world of experiences as never before.
Know how to go about it
Speaking to strangers is a nightmare for a lot of people. But understand it is a nightmare to them as it is to you. The point is knowing how to start the conversation, maintain it brief, and finish. Initially, I would approach somebody and say hi, and stop at that. Sounds weird?
Nowadays, I take a moment to tell somebody my name and am glad to be meeting them. They in turn tell me their name and seamlessly that way, the conversation flows. I am in the process of learning how to finish the conversations though.
Some people are good with starting conversations but have it hard finding a way of ending them. It is important to know when to say what, and how to say it, especially the finishing part as that may mean the possibility of a long fruitful connection after that or not.
This brings me to another challenging area. How many people, like me, find it very hard to keep in touch consistently? Yet in keeping in touch lies a pivotal component of long-term friendships and networks.
Keeping in touch
We can all agree that networks are built. The only challenge with many individuals is that their efforts are sometimes unidirectional. It becomes very hard to maintain a good network relationship if your end of the bargain is to only always ask for help.
Maybe you think you have nothing to offer but keenly considering, there is a lot we have to offer. It is as simple as sharing some of the knowledge and insights you have, offering to volunteer, or connecting a person in need of some help to someone else you know can help.
Regularly keeping in touch helps give us a glimpse of what the other person is going through at that moment, and the milestones they are making. That way you can celebrate with them and strengthen the relationship you share.
The objective of networking is to help each other. If your reason for networking is to only be helped and do nothing in return, go back to the drawing board and revise your motive.
For a long time, I have not understood the real meaning of networking. I simply networked as a form of adding people to my already burgeoning telephone contact list as the guy at the event was doing and doing too little to make any value out of it. Network with moderation and purposefully.
Now I will be networking with the first motive of helping out rather than seeking help. And when it necessitates that I ask for help I am wiser to know how to go about it to avoid being presumed too needy or pushy because reaching such a point strains the relationship.
It is important to understand the limits and be considerate especially if it involves asking for help. Exercise moderation and be careful how you go about asking for help from among your networks. Put in some effort as well from your end and let it not be like you want everything done for you.
Be objective and honest
Always understand that the ultimate goal of networking is akin to promoting yourself and other people along the stairs of value. For instance, when you meet people of interest you have never met before, your intention is not to merely make them acquaintances but to develop an intimate association with them in the long term.
Work along those lines. Follow up with them genuinely and with respect. Suppose you agree to meet with such a person or maybe they are helping connect you to somebody and you are supposed to do something by a certain time, be there in time, or do that thing as expected.
Respect the fact that the other person has accepted to help you for instance and has put you in their tight schedule. Respect is very important and if you promise to do something in return, do so. Be honest to say what you cannot do. Never promise something you are unsure to deliver on.
From today, try to check out an interesting thing or two about your prospective network and speak to them about it. Appreciate their achievements and that way they will know that you do your research well and that your interest in them is genuine from the onset.
At the end of the end, don’t just network for the sake of networking as I did in the past. Start to build high-impact networks, networks that will create value for you in the long run. Do so in social events, business dinners, workshops, job fairs, and wherever an opportunity presents itself.