I thought this was going to be a list. I started running through what I think people should stop doing when they are “networking”: Don’t be entitled, Don’t send mail to their house if you don’t know them, don’t try to sell them stuff in their DMs if you’ve never spoken to them before, etc.
But I scrapped it because it all boils down to one thing: relationships.
So instead of this being a list of what NOT to do, this will be the one thing you should do: BUILD RELATIONSHIPS.
The thing about relationships — real relationships — is there is a sense of reciprocity; give and take. So many times you can encounter people in the business or creative field who are hellbent on getting you to do something for them, whether that is buying their product, connecting them with so-and-so, joining their email list, or whatever it is they need. They miss the opportunity to offer the same to that person.
They never offer to help or connect anyone else. It isn’t always malicious; it can stem from the idea they don’t have anything to offer. Maybe they are just getting started or they are talking to someone who is further along in their careers. But relationships don’t work if all parties involved aren’t bringing something to the table. So that is the challenge: learning how to hold your hand out to give, rather than to take.
What if we thought of “networking” as fostering real connection? What if we thought about it as a relationship building opportunity as opposed to a way to better position your business or to gain new clients? Consider these five things when trying to build healthy business relationships:
- Be authentic
- Identify the ‘win win’
- Keep your word
- Be Fair
- Stay Consistent
Stop networking and start getting to know people. Really care about who people are outside of their title or job description. Because in the end, that’s all that matters.