If you're in the business world long enough - and by long enough, I mean 4 hours - you will hear THE dreaded 10 letter word. This word instills dread and anxiety in most people.
In fact, Forbes published an article on why people hate this word. The irony is that this 10 letter word is CRUCIAL to business. So many partnerships and deals are formed because people engaged in this 10 letter word.
What is the word?
That's right. This word brings up the image of stuffy, boring get-togethers in restaurant bars where you have the same conversation 30 times (What do you do? How's the weather?), listen to people talk endlessly about themselves, and get accosted with business cards and pitches. All while trying to get your business card and pitch out as well. And then, the next day, you hardly remember who it was you had met.
How does this build relationships? How does this create the foundation for deals?
It doesn't. At least, not this type of networking.
You see, most people are taught to network incorrectly. And there are organizations that spend a LOT of money to fix this. In fact, I'll be facilitating an e-Coaching session for the National Association of Professional Women this month to train people in how to network - the RIGHT way.
If I could summarize training session in just a few seconds, it would be this -
"Networking is about building relationships. View it as building a friendship.
All else will fall into place."
- Silvica Rosca
People do business with people they know, like and trust. The likelihood of you going to a networking event and landing a client or closing a deal with a cold lead is slim.
If you go in with that pressure on your mind, you're self-sabotaging yourself. That pressure adds stress. When you're stressed, your brain is not functioning at full capacity. It ignores data that is right in front of your eyes. It misinterprets. It freezes.
Just like a computer that has too many programs running. And your chances of missing the right person to talk to are high.
If you walk in with the intention to create a relationship, or to build upon a relationship that has been started, the pressure is off. Now you can truly get to know people, know their needs, and then know how to serve them better.
By the way, networking isn't restricted within the confines of restaurant bars or hotel conference rooms. Check out this Harvard Business Review article on how to get creative with the location and nature of your networking events.
Here's an example from my last networking event, held by the Secret Entourage in Santa Monica. I went in with the intent of connecting with people. No pressure on "I want to land a speaking engagement" or "I want to find clients for my Be Fearless Leadership program". Just a simple, I want to get to know people.
So that is what I did. And in the process of talking to people, giving advice and value, I met people who could either help me with publicity or would be potential clients. I didn't pitch them on what I did and the fact that we needed to work together. I gave value, and they asked to connect more. Will we end up doing business together? I don't know. Maybe. I'd like to.
By focusing on getting to know them as a person first, I opened the door to that potential business.
And, I got to enjoy the event! And I got to meet many interesting people. Here is a picture of two of them:
The picture on the left is with Pejman (PJ) Ghadimi. He is the founder of The Secret Entourage, the organization that put on the event. PJ started the Secret Entourage to ensure that the next generation of entrepreneurs would have access to the RIGHT advice, from people who had walked that road and succeeded. He was driven by bringing value. This drive resulted in an online community, an online academy, and now, an offline community as well.
The picture on the right is with Tom Bileyu, co-founder of Quest Nutrition. He spoke so passionately about having a WHY that drives you. Know why you want to build a business. The money is just a facilitator. What will the money enable you to do? And he encouraged people to have a growth mindset. He shared his story, how he went from thinking he was stupid to building a billion-dollar company.
Both Tom and PJ are amazing, kind-hearted, and generous business men. Had I given in to the fear of "networking is awful", I would not have had the privilege to meet them.
Who are you NOT meeting because you're dreading that 10-letter word?
Stop allowing dread and fear to influence who you get to meet (or not meet).
Change your view on networking, view it as building relationships, and go out there and start building!
Who knows who you will meet!