Networking is something that presents us with many opportunities, it’s always been important in business but also for having a better, richer life, so it’s something worth being good at.
How about just getting over a simple aversion to the idea of ‘Networking’?
Perhaps you see networking as a sleazy activity, something that’s not for you.
Well, if the latter is the case, then you are working against your natural instincts.
We were born social animals and networking is a perfectly natural activity.
In this article, particularly if you have any aversion to networking, I want to encourage you to get back to those natural instincts and get more comfortable with the idea of social interaction – networking.
I’ll do this by sharing the first (and incidentally, the most important) secret to great networking. First, let’s take a look at a few networking examples…
It Doesn’t Have To Be At An ‘Event‘ To Be Networking
We’re on our summer holidays at the moment, which this year we’re spending on a five week road trip around Europe. At the moment we’re high up in the French Alps (escaping the mosquitoes) which is actually somewhere we come every year.
The swimming pool attendant (a really lovely guy I always chat to) at the local pool where we’ve been coming for ages invited us to his home for an evening meal and to meet his family – that’s networking.
Whilst here I caught up with a friend who lives here and talked about his business, giving him some advice about whether he should sell part of it or not and how he might go about negotiating for the best deal – also networking.
For our journey we have planned our route through the various countries of Europe to visit as many friends as possible on the way too – also networking.
So, obviously I could give you about another 50 examples between all of the calls I’ve had, people I’ve met including those I’ve met for the first time and those I knew already, and opportunities I’ve become exposed to on our travels so far.
The point is this:
It neither has to explicitly be stated as a business conversation, nor an organized event to be networking. Just talking to people is networking.
To elaborate on that point just a little further: for all I know, the brother of the swimming pool attendant could be someone looking for some business consulting and through accepting the dinner invite, that presents an opportunity for a business deal to take place.
i.e. opportunities can come from anywhere and it’s when we’re networking (well) that we can benefit from those opportunities.
The #1 Secret To Great Networking
I’ve done plenty of ‘networking’ in my time. In fact, I do it all the time. We all do. The question is whether you realize that you are networking (because every time you interact with someone you’re networking, whether you realize it or not) and then whether you are networking well or badly.
During my consulting career it was very much expected that I would ‘network’ to get leads, make sales, meet and pass on new clients, further the reputation of our company etc etc. Any good consultant will know that relationships are the life-blood of a consulting business. What I found is that most of my ‘deals’ were done when I least expected them, when I was at my most relaxed. Observing the people in my company who had the best reputations, made the most sales and were generally the most successful consultants, I found the same to be true. They sold more work because they were relaxed, themselves and often did so in social rather than ‘work’ environments.
In general, if we know that we are networking but we force the issue, trying to impress the person we’re networking with, pretending to be someone we’re not or trying to get some kind of ‘result’ from our networking efforts prematurely, then it doesn’t work out too well.
This is because people like to interact with those they feel comfortable with and that usually means that the person they are talking to needs to be comfortable too – to get the kind of rapport that we need for good interactions and for building long term relationships. This is also the bedrock upon which trust and authority can be established (i.e. this is never going to happen if you’re trying to be someone you’re not).
Long story short, the #1 secret to great networking is to be yourself. Be yourself. That’s it, nothing more complicated than that.
The difficult part, of course, isn’t in understanding this idea, but in managing to do it when the going gets tough.
In a difficult or pressurized environment (such as needing to meet sales targets or being in a room full of strangers) managing to be yourself is often easier said than done.
I explain in detail how we might go about being ourselves in these environments (or in any) along with the 2 other secrets to great networking in my new book…
Introducing: The 3 Secrets To Great Networking
I’m often asked about networking and also end up in conversations with too many people who have a tainted view of the idea – either that or people who get it all wrong through being rude or ‘spammy‘ via social media (which is like a virtual networking explosion – giving access to social interaction – and therefore networking on a much larger scale).
It’s for these reasons that I wrote the book ‘The 3 Secrets To Great Networking‘.
I believe there are only 3 secrets to great networking – the good news is that networking is a perfectly natural thing, anyone can network effectively and each of the 3 secrets are logical, rooted in an understanding of human behavior and psychology and work together to create powerful results.
So what if I told you that there’s a short book available which will explain all you need to know about great networking, to dispel your fears and give you all the practical advice you need to become a great networker from the moment you finish reading it. The book is a really quick read and has been complimented for its practical and conversational style.
I’ve only just published it but have received some early reviews already – to see these or to read a free preview of the book, click one of the two links below.
It’s published across all territories in Amazon so I’m not going to list them all out here but if you’d like to check it out, here it is in Amazon US and in Amazon UK (if you’re in another country just do a Book search on ‘Alan Chatfield’ or the title and you’ll get it).
Otherwise if you just want to ‘connect’, make sure you’re on our list and you can drop me a mail 😉