Networking is fundamental to business development. Everyone is expected to do it, and it should be important to everyone, right? Not so fast! Effective networking holds different meanings to people. Was it a great event if you met a lot of people, connected with someone who can send you business, or just if you had a wonderful time? Were the food or drinks awesome? Or was it NOT a good event if these things did not happen? The deeper you build your network, the more your outlook changes.
Years ago, early in my career in commercial real estate, I went to a networking event with Jim Rosas speaking on networking. I will always remember his definition of networking: Networking is connecting the dots – FOR OTHERS. How simple, but how complex! Being selfless in our approach to business connections and looking at what we can bring to others, rather than just focusing on who we can meet to bring us more deals helps us build deeper relationships. It means we are surrounding ourselves with people who want to help others, and we can be confident as we introduce them to our fellow colleagues that they will also act with that same integrity.
Pretty soon our networking circles begin to emerge from this pattern of helping others and working with people we actually like, and who actually like us! As we form strong networking circles, and our friends have their networking circles, these concentric circles merge, and we benefit from an instant connection from the shared mutual contacts.
A few years later I attended a leadership conference with best-selling author Steve Farber. There I learned the mantra “Do what you love, in the service of those you love what you do.” When we surround ourselves with like-minded individuals, then we build a solid network of colleagues who are also our friends and they want us to be successful, just as we want them to be successful. And this is also how we take our networking and turn it into becoming industry leaders and expanding our centers of influence.
Of course, all of this only works if we also maintain the basics of business acumen, including following up, both with the contacts we just met and with the introductory emails between contacts we thought should meet. It also involves taking the research to get involved in organizations that have solid networking opportunities.
Looking forward to connecting with you!