|By Nancy Fox, President of Fox Coaching Associates|
|Nov 6, 2005|
I recently gave a presentation to a networking organization attended by many veteran business folks. The topic was "Turning Networking Into Business." The room was packed, telegraphing that folks very much wanted to know more about networking.
One attendee, an experienced financial services exec, chatted with me after the presentation. Having heard about one of my clients during the presentation, he asked about the possibility of my introducing them. Linking people is one of my favorite services. I happily handed him my card and suggested that he contact me to discuss this. Not only did I not hear from him, but I contacted him, and never heard back from him!
Here's the bottom line: Networking works if you work it, and doesn't work if you don't work it.
The best way I know to make networking really productive is to turn networking into netplaying©.
So how does one turn networking into netplaying and thus into business?
• Recognize that there isn't a direct cause and effect relationship betwee networking and results.
In the current mindset of networking, we want to look at it like sowing seeds from the package. The picture tells us exactly what the emerging flower will look like, and the directions say when it will sprout.
|Netplaying is more like this: If you plant a seed, sometimes the flower grows in a completely different part of the garden, and in its own time. |
Netplaying is enjoying the mystery of planting a seed and not knowing what plant will come up, where, or when. It's a game. Games are a lot more fun than work. If you keep playing the game, there will be growth, sometimes more than you ever dreamed.
• Networking is about YOU; netplaying is about US.
If you approach networking with "what will I get out of this?" you are likely to be disappointed and disillusioned.
When there isn't pressure on you or others, people are much more interested in getting to know you.
|One of my clients recently "got it." He had been actively networking, and was frustrated because people were constantly talking about themselves, and not very interested in hearing about him. I coached him with this netplaying tip - become immensely curious about others. |
One day, this tip kicked in. He was talking to a prospective client who was rambling on about himself. Then, my client started really listening. An area mutual opportunity opened up. My client started asking this prospect open-ended questions, expanding the conversation. He was now immensely curious about the other person. Their relationship turned into new business. My client started having fun with networking.
Will you benefit more when you do the networking basics - follow up promptly, send thank-you emails, attend networking events regularly? Absolutely. But start netplaying ©, and watch your business scoreboard climb. Wanna bet