The world of networking comes in many shapes and forms, with rules, pitfalls and secrets that no one tells you.
Networking is not just about attending events. Networking, or the opportunity to network, is with everyone that you interact with. It does not matter whether you have a career, profession, or business, it applies to all.
You may have heard of the expressions – ‘ ‘Your Network is Your Net-Worth’ ‘You are the sum of those who you hang around with’ – While this is true, be sure that you understand what part YOU play. If you want the right people around you, you need to be the ‘right’ person for them. What value is being exchanged? Remember, it is not only about money, there are many ways to add and receive value.
Not Everyone Is Relevant
Having just said that networking happens with anyone you interact with, it does not mean you have to connect and follow up with everyone. You need to be able to understand who is aligned with your goals and ambitions whether it be now or for the future. Not everyone is relevant even if you like them, have them part of your general networking pool of people.
Systemise your Network
There is no point networking and gathering details if you have no system of categorisation. This will keep things organised and you can add and omit accordingly. This will also help you understand who you need to be following up with closely and who you don’t. You need to create categories so you can organise and access your network contacts in a way that makes sense to you. It is not only to gain easy access to details but to organise them in order of relevancy.
Set an Intention and Understand What Are The Intentions of Others
Before you head into a networking event or if you find yourself in some time of networking situation, or even when you are at the point of following up with someone; you need to set the intention. Why are you there? What value are you adding? What are you hoping to achieve from this interaction? Think before you act. Otherwise you will be wasting precious time of yourself and others. While opportunity is everywhere, you can miss it entirely if you have no idea why you are networking in the first place.
The More You Give The More You Get – What Goes Around Comes Around
You can’t just take, you need to give. You also need to ensure that you hold others to this standard too. You need to judge for yourself who you are willing to help and why, is it in alignment with you, your goals and vision? Be aware that this is not always going to be for an immediate return. Set boundaries, you can’t give from an empty cup. It is OK to say no.
No, means No
You have to learn how to do this and do it well. There are times where you will be pushed or influenced into saying yes. Stand your ground, saying no does not mean you are a bad person. It is ok to say no and have someone not like you, that is their problem not yours. Act with integrity and stay true to you, you don’t need to be mean or aggressive, just learn to be assertive. You don’t need to justify yourself, where relevant you can offer feedback if it will be constructive to the other party.
It Does Not Always Work Out
Just because you connect with someone does not mean it will work out. Deals will fall through, don’t sweat it. Move onto the next one. Don’t get too attached to anything that has not been finalised. Even then be careful.
Say ‘Thank You’ – Act with Integrity
Time is our greatest commodity and if someone has taken the time to speak with you, follow up with you, or even see you in person then say Thank You. Even if you are at an event, finish off the conversation with a Thank You. They should do so in return but keep this in mind for yourself. Acting with integrity goes a long way.
Never Lose Yourself – Always Know Who You Are
Be positively influenced by others, and offer the same in return. Sometimes there is a risk that you can lose yourself in the process. This is not always down to those who have a negative impact on you, those are more easily detected. Sometimes you can find yourself trying to become someone who you are not. Get inspired by others but remember to remain your own authentic self. Check in with yourself regularly.
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