Networking is super important
Networking is super important
I can say that I was able to attend Brown University and get a consulting career because of my network. The people around me provided opportunities. It appears that the mentors and friends in my network were introduced to me by luck and through no apparent pattern. But as I began to explore why and how I met an incredible Counselor that introduced me to the Ivy League Schools and a Senior Partner at a consulting firm that ended up hiring me, I began to understand that there was a reason that I met these people. I noticed a pattern that I can use to my advantage to increase my “luck”. As I grow my network of mentors and people that are aligned to my goals, luck seems to be showing up a few more times than before.
I recently gave a workshop at San Francisco State University on Networking. Like my friend Beth Bridges, The Network Motivator, said it best, “networking is a SKILL that can be developed”. Growing up, I was not taught that you could develop these personal traits that are required for networking. Rather, I grew up in an environment that took things for what they appeared; That either you had it or you didn’t have it. Well, I didn’t have the ability to network. However as I reflect on how I recently been able to accomplish my goals, I learned that there are a few steps one can make to increase their personal network and really make progress on the things they desire. So here they are:
Get out: This means that you need to go out and attend events. Get yourself into a group full of strangers and go talk to them. Connect with them by starting a conversation that is meaningful for THEM. There is a book (which I'm sure you have all read) by Dale Carnegie, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. It’s a classic book that explains that people LOVE to talk about themselves. In this day in age, when we have the attention span of a puppy, we can certainly make lots of friends by just listening to what they want to talk about. Usually they just want to talk about themselves. So go out and meet new people. Get new ideas from people that think differently than you and are able to provide a new fresh perspective. Go out to your local university club or chamber of commerce. These organizations facilitate and foster networking activities.
Take Risks: This means that you need to try things out of your comfort zone. So if you are a person that only talks to people that come talk to you, then you are missing a huge opportunity. You are literally letting others dictate your network potential. Why not take a big risk and jump into a group of people already talking. It’s difficult, it’s awkward and may even be SCARY but it may just be what you need to grow some confidence. When you take a few calculated risks along the way, you may get some incredible results. Or at a minimum different results. Trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results is just silly. As you begin to experiment with different techniques, you will begin to find your groove. You will be able to show your character and people will gravitate towards you.
Show Value: This means that you provided something meaningful for the other person. If you ask them about their life, you are already closer that you think in showing value than most other people. But how about you introduce them to someone you know. Or better yet, try to solve one of their problems. However this requires that you listen to their needs and really take action. Remember that everyone has different needs. Even 2 people that have the same goal, may have different needs. For example a person may want a job to pay their bills and go on that vacation next year so that they can accomplish something because they are feeling down. Another person may want a job to pay their mortgage and the tuition for their daughter, as she is the first in her family to attend college. You see, even though they have the same goal of earning money, they do it for a whole different reason. In order to help people and show value, you need to really pay attention and bring something to the table that is important to them and is relevant to their current needs. It’s not easy but it’s very rewarding, you will grow your network and others will also want to help you in your endeavours.
So there you have it, go and get out. Find events that appeal to you so you can take a risks and truly show value to the people that you meet. Others will begin to gravitate towards you. This will increase your ability to get the things you want out of life.
Now although these steps are simple. They are not easy to implement. But are you willing to bet on yourself and do you have the confidence to make things happen?
Remember that Failure Is Not Defeat so go on a F.I.N.D. your Passion.