Finding A New Spin On Networking
Connecting with new people is something that most of us undertake naturally in our daily lives, yet the term ‘networking’ manages to send even the most sociable of business people into a profuse sweat. So why has this very natural act developed such a bad reputation?
Anyone who has spent time at a work event cornered by someone trying to blatantly promote their business or worse still, themselves, will completely understand.
No one likes to feel like the direct and only target of an advertising campaign, especially when it really doesn’t have any relevance to you or your organisation.
As human beings, we then tend to put the shoe on the other foot and do not want to be perceived as that annoying person at functions, pushing our own professional (or personal) business onto others. It is in our nature to want to be liked, and the very notion of being annoying, makes us feel uneasy. Yet there is one minor adjustment you can make that will turn networking from a sweat inducing activity, to an integral and enjoyable part of your life: attitude.
Let me explain. If you approach people with the sole purpose of selling your wares or closing quick deals, you are setting yourself up for failure. Not only will you miss out on learning about others and their organisations, but you will have a sense of desperation about you, and trust me when I say, no one likes desperation.
If on the other hand, you view your approach to people and events as an opportunity to interact, learn and exchange information, you will take the pressure off yourself significantly.
Meeting people and exchanging information in all its forms occurs organically as a part of living, and therefore, going forward with an open mind, big smile and positive attitude will open up myriads of opportunities for you, both professionally and personally.
In the business world, the pressure is sometimes on to make significant gains in short periods of time. Having a positive open attitude is admittedly a soft approach to networking and that means that it can take time to build solid working relationships.
I met with an expert fundraiser in the humanitarian sector last year who imparted some words of wisdom for those who are looking to build support from new professional contacts quickly. Using donations as a metaphor she said “If you have the attitude that you are bothering people by asking them for money, then you will believe that you are bothering people by asking them for money, and that belief will filter over negatively into your approach. If on the other hand, you have the attitude that you are presenting them with opportunities they might have been looking for, you will brush off the rejections and focus on the people you are helping”.
So put a positive spin on networking, change your attitude and find out who needs your help!