The quickest way to fail at networking is tied to the same reason that we came out and started networking in the first place. We are typically introduced to networking through an individual, book, audio or video resource… encouraging us to grow our sales, our profits and our bottom line… through networking. While this is usually the driving force behind us getting out into the “networking world,” it puts us in the wrong frame of mind, for successful networking. Why? Because this makes us think “Sales.” I want to increase my bottom line, so it must be about how many people I can meet and present my products/services to, right? Wrong.
Networking is not about sales. Networking is about connections and lots of them. If you think about the first part of Networking, you will see the word “Net.” Just imagine a net and where each horizontal thread of the net meets a vertical thread. At each of those points, you will find a “connection.” If you want to catch more fish, you need a bigger net, right? Well, you can make a net larger by either spacing out each connection, but then the holes in your net get larger and you net is not effective. Instead, you have to have more and more connections that are closer together. This will make a larger net and one where the holes are smaller, so you have success… catching fish. It’s the same with networking. We need to build our net by creating many solid connections with the people that we meet. Here’s the rub; when we start networking with a “sales” mindset, people will naturally pull away from us. People do not want to be sold and neither do you. We can smell a salesperson a mile away and we run away from them as fast as we can. If we are trying to make “connections” in our net, then leading by selling isn’t going to work. We have to put our sales hat aside and start looking at networking as an opportunity to get to know others around us and see how you can give into their lives. By taking this approach, you will quickly begin to see your net grow and you will have the end result of increasing your bottom line, but as a bi-product of your networking, not as a result of your sales skills or prowess.