Networking is about offering value, not receiving it.
Yes. You read that right. Machiavelli wrote that it’s never acceptable to use others as a means to an end. Obviously there are mutually beneficial agreements, such as employment. But in general, you should not look at other people as an avenue to your next destination. This is the foundation of networking.
Rather than looking at it as a collection of resources, you should be meeting others with the genuine intention of offering value to them instead. Networking is all about offering value to others.
So, you may be asking, how does this benefit me? If everyone goes into it offering value to others, you will ultimately benefit from the relationships you form. Think of it like having a bank account. You have to be constantly making deposits if you want to make a withdrawal some day. If you aren’t putting anything into the account, you’ll never be able to take anything out when the time comes. And just like you can’t put IOUs and Monopoly money in there, you have to put in the real thing if you ever want a positive balance. And often times, if you are really investing in those relationships, the return will be far greater than you put in.
Ready to get started? Yes, you are.
This is another one of those things that may come as a surprise. Every time you meet someone, regardless of where you are, you are networking. You might have a sociable waitress at the restaurant, or you could be chatting with someone in line at Starbucks. It doesn’t matter. Bring everyone into your network. You don’t need to be at a networking event to network. In fact, skip out on networking events altogether. Stick to genuine social and professional gatherings and make real connections.
You never know who will know someone you’re looking for. The barista who makes your latte could be the son of the man who’s hiring someone with your experience. The woman in the Uber with you might work for a VC firm who’s looking for a new developer. I make friends everywhere I go. Sometimes I get clients from it. Most of the time, I don’t. And that’s 100% ok. I just genuinely like talking to people and hearing their story. Strangers are fascinating. Give ’em a shot. You just might meet some cool new folks.
What do you have to do? Talk to everyone. Everywhere. All the time.
Ok, so how can you adopt that outlook?
Practice. Duh. But what do you practice? There are a few life-changing (no, really) books I’ll be sharing with you in the next email I send your way. One of which is “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. You can also check out “The Science of Selling” by David Hoffeld. Both of these books will give you the tools to start a conversation with ANYONE and find a way to gain their trust. This is crucial. In a world full of empty promises and short cuts, if you can be genuinely interested and willing to help others, a lot of doors will open for you right when you need them. Don’t be a Buzzfeed headline. Be a real story.
What is the 1 thing you can take from this?
If you come across as needy, people can smell it, and they’ll reject you. No one wants to make friends with someone who just asks for things all the time. There are a lot of people on this planet. Be one of the good ones. Give more than you take.