A Network give you Reach; A Community gives you Power! And Relationships are like muscle tissue, the more you engage them, the stronger and more valuable they become. Kristin understands this better than most. Great post here from her about Networking Events...
Do you view networking events as a great opportunity to grow your business, or do they invoke feelings of anxiety, boredom, and moments of WTH all rolled into one? Have you mastered the art of networking (it really is an art!)? Or, are you completely winging it?
Let's start by determine the kind of networker you are. Which sounds most like you?
The Card Gatherer This is the guy (or girl) in the room whose single mission it is to gather as many business cards as possible, so he can immediately spam you with unwanted calls, emails and the unwelcome e-newsletter. The card gatherer rarely, if ever, takes the time to get to know someone or to have a meaningful conversation. Instead the focus is on volume. And when it comes to networking, volume should never be the goal. Don't be the card gatherer.
The Wallflower You guessed it. The wallflower is the one who drags herself to an event and then clings to the edge of the room, almost as if being pulled there by some magnetic force. Rarely will this gentle flower make a move, and if approached, their banter - both business and personal - tends to be awkward at best. They are typically the very same folks who complain they "never get any business out of networking." To be successful at networking, you have to....say it with me.....network! Come on folks, don't be a wallflower.
The Clique The clique is an extremely common networking stereotype (I am totally guilty of this one!). You sign up for a networking event, and not wanting to go along, you persuade one of your friends or colleagues to accompany you. The problem is, when you get to the event, the only one you converse with is...the one who brought ya! If this sounds like you, the key is to work the clique to your advantage. Invite others into your conversation. With you and your partner actively engaging others in conversation, it makes it easier to listen and retain key information. It also presents an excellent opportunity for someone else - your clique buddy - to sing your praises. If you want that safety blanket of a clique, be sure to let others inside that bubble of yours.
The Connector The connector is the ultimate networker. One who epitomizes the genuine spirit of networking. They understand that networking is about building relationships, not about making a fast connection or sale. It requires engagement and a genuine interest in the other person. Above all, connectors are continually looking for ways to introduce those they meet to people and resource they feel will help. These "others focused" individuals prove time and time again that by getting to know someone, and genuinely helping them, relationships strengthen, and business organically develops. Don't rush it though - lasting relationships take time....and, oh, are they worth it!
Regardless of the type of networker you are, it is important to remembers that networking is not a single event or encounter. It is repeated interactions and conversations. It takes planning, effort and intentionality to build relationships. Start by focusing on the following:
Choose events and organizations that fit your niche or your interests, and become actively involved
Remember that building relationships is key to successful networking
Understand that relationships take time to build and must continually be nurtured
GIVE before you ever expect to receive
Don't be "that guy!"
Happy networking my friends....I'll see you out there!