What Does Effective Networking Look Like Today?
The world is absorbed with online connections. Today, in our hyper-connected world, people are focused their social media relationships built on Likes, Follows, Comments, and Shares. But does the number of “connections” you have on LinkedIn or the Followers you have on Facebook translate to the size and value of your network? I would argue that no, while the size and engagement level of your social graph is a powerful tool you can utilize to spread a message, it is not the same as networking or growing a strong personal or business network. No matter how the world changes, true, quality networking will always be about creating relationships by connecting with another individual.
What does networking look like today? Networking is so much more than passing business cards or connecting on LinkedIn. To be the most effective, you must enter every networking situation with a shift from a sales mindset to a relationship mindset. Ask questions. If I am in a room with business people, I ask about who they are and I get to know them in order to build a relationship. I feel that every single person I meet, could help make me a better person. And, that I have an opportunity to make their life better, as well. Relationships are the core of life and relationships create opportunity.
Then, I find something that we both have in common or an intersection of our worlds. This helps build a common bond that will be the spark for the relationship. This commonality could be something as simple as an interest in a sports team, having attended the same school, or any point of conversation that is memorable and unique to your relationship.
Finally, I focus on how I can give, before I focus on what I can get. I find a way to assist them with something they need, a goal they have, a passion, or a business need. Offering to help without expecting return will work to solidify the relationship we are building.
Networking today is the process of
- Focusing on getting to know the other person,
- finding a point of commonality, and
- looking for a way to assist them with something they need. Always give without expecting a return.
I’ll share an example of a great networking experience I had recently. I met a business leader named Jon within a few months of moving to Austin. He has been part of very successful companies throughout his career and was introduced to me by someone who I had met in Austin. I had helped the first person with something and he helped me by introducing me to Jon. Relationships create opportunities!
When Jon and I went to have coffee, I focused on building the relationship, not selling him anything or jumping into shop talk. We talked about who he is what he is interested in. Eventually, we talked about my passions and our enthusiasm for Austin since moving, my desire to get to know the city, and the cash back app company I had founded called Dosh. Based on that interaction, he ended up offering to introduce me to his network. By the end of the day had already introduced me to 6 other business leaders. Within 24 hours, I had scheduled coffee or breakfast meetings with each of them.
Those 6 people have introduced me to a world within the Austin community that has led to tremendous opportunity, new personal relationships, and to new hires of outstanding caliber at Dosh. That one original relationship ended up leading to incredible connections for me personally as well as for Dosh as I work to grow the business. Relationships create opportunities!