The First Principle in Networking

Have you ever used any form of the following phrases:
“I’m so busy right now.”
“I’m too busy trying to…..”
“I feel like I’m so busy that I can’t get everything I want to do done.”
“I can’t do that right now, I’m too busy trying to make a living.”

We’re All Busy

If you’re anything like me, you have. Don’t worry, it’s part of our human nature to be busy doing stuff. The problem is, being busy will not help you be successful, especially when it comes to building relationship through business networking. Most people understand the importance of networking in order to grow a sustainable, long-term business. Numerous studies have shown that building business relationships is critical to success. That’s why the first principle in networking is simple – SHOW UP! I realize this sounds pretty easy, but showing up has some competition, it’s called “I’m too busy.”
Now before you start rolling your eyes and thinking to yourself, “well if I’m busy than I must be doing something right.” WRONG! Most people who are busy are not being productive or efficient. The truth is, anyone can be busy, but you have to work at being productive and efficient. The easy way to tell if you are being busy or not is too look at your results. Of course this means you have to know what you’re trying to accomplish.

The Simple Truth of Networking

Here’s a simple truth when it comes to growing your business and becoming more successful in life…
You have to know what you trying to accomplish, you have to have goals! If you’re not setting desirable and measurable goals for your business (and self), you are on the fast track to failure. Here’s how I measure my success in the form of outcomes.
I use the formula: ACCOMPLISH [ X ] by DOING [ Y ] as MEASURED BY [ Z ].
I then write out my goals in the following format:
By [SPECIFIC DATE] I will….[DESCRIPTION OF WHAT I WANT TO ACCOMPLISH].
To achieve this goal I will….[LIST 3 TO 5 ACTIVITIES/ACTIONS THAT WILL ALLOW ME TO ACCOMPLISH MY GOAL]
To measure my progress of this goal I will….[LIST THE SPECIFIC WAYS I MEASURE MY PROGRESS]
Doing this will help you stay focused and productive, and once you have this down, you can easily accomplish the first principle in networking!

The First Principle of Networking

Most people understand the importance of networking when it comes to building a sustainable business. Networking success looks different for everyone. What kind of networker are you? Are you someone who enjoys meeting new people and striking up conversations with strangers (an extrovert), or are you someone who doesn’t feel as comfortable meeting new people and initiating a conversation (an introvert)? Being an extrovert or introvert doesn’t make you any better or worse than the other. It only means you network differently and will have different strengths and weaknesses. Regardless of how you classify yourself, showing up will help you be a better networker! Showing up requires three things:
  1. Be approachable
  2. Ask good questions and listen
  3. Show up to serve

Be Approachable

Showing up means somebody is going to talk to you, ask you your name and what you do. This will happen 100% of the time if you aren’t making people feel uncomfortable or unapproachable. What do I mean by this? Focus on what your body language is saying. Keep your head up, stand tall, make eye contact, and smile. If you do that, you are approachable and people will come and talk to you, or you can more easily approach others to talk to them (depending on your personality type).

Ask Good Questions and Listen

Before attending an event, you need to come prepared to ask good questions and be prepared to shut up and listen to their responses. As you begin asking more questions (and listening), it’s important to understand the natural progression of information that is shared. Most people usually start out sharing professional information (what they do for a living, how long they’ve been doing it, what services or products they provide, etc.). The next level is that of safe personal information (hobbies, where they’re from, where they’ve traveled, etc.). The final phase would be vulnerable information shared (personal struggles, hopes and dreams, health issues, etc.). It is at the vulnerable level that long-lasting connections are made. Getting to the vulnerable level often takes time and multiple engagements.
Don’t be selective with who you talk to either. Reserve your judgments about whether or not someone would be a good prospect or customer. You have no idea what they know, what they need, or more importantly, who they know.

Show Up to Serve!

Networking becomes easier when you’re not focused on your own needs and wants. There’s no pressure to “try to make a sale” when you’re looking for opportunities to serve others outside of your products or services. There are countless ways to serve others if you just listen to what they are saying. Often, it’s a simple thing like a referral or a good business book you’ve recently read. Small acts of service will always have much larger returns.
Everyone can be a better networker. Networking is not about being perfect. Networking is about being consistent and persistent in your efforts. Small changes, like showing up and being prepared to learn and serve others, will have huge payoffs in your life. Networking is a journey, not an event!