Over the past few years networking has become a popular way for people to meet others whom they might do business with. Networking groups have appeared everywhere. Books, articles, white papers, seminars and more are available to help us learn the finer points of this prospecting method.
A lot of what I read about networking leaves me feeling rather empty. It seems to me much of it is too focused on getting something for the networker rather than doing something for other people.
In my mind, what we call networking simply used to be meeting other people in business situations. Now, it’s a “lead generation strategy”. It almost seems crass, to hear some people describe their networking ‘systems’.
Maybe I’m just pining for the ‘good old days’. (Am I really old enough to think in terms of the good old days?)
Or maybe there is a better way to network that is more focused on people rather than on prospecting quotas.
When I think of better, more personal ways to meet people for business purposes, I think of my wife. She networks like a pro without even thinking about it. I know she’s never read a book or taken a class about networking. Yet, she meets people and develops new relationships better than most salespeople I know.
How does she do this?
1. She is Sincere
She is completely sincere when she meets people. She likes meeting people and it shows.
2. She is Warm & Friendly
Being naturally friendly and outgoing helps when meeting people. Being warm and welcoming is an added benefit. My wife has these traits in abundance.
3. She is Interested
Many people consider themselves interesting (don’t we all!). But when we’re meeting people, it’s better if we find the other person interesting rather than ourselves. When my wife meets someone she gives him or her whole attention. She truly is interested in them and it comes across in the conversation.
4. She is not Selling Anything
Because she’s not a salesperson, she never meets people with the sole purpose of selling them something. And, when we network to meet people, we need to remember that the relationship comes before the sale.
Many people see networking as a way to line up new prospects. But they forget that people are people first and potential customers second. We like to be valued for who we are not for what we might buy from you. Lyrics to an old Bob Seger song come to mind… “I’m not a number…”
So, when you set out to meet people for business purpose, remember my wife’s rules of networking. Network the natural way.