What is YOUR method of Networking?
I attended a networking event this morning. It was a casual meet and greet, before work style event. I like these types of events because it leaves the “structure” part up to the networker. What I mean by that is, there are no 30 second pitches, and it is really up to you who you meet. You can interact as long or short as you choose.
While the 1st question that comes to mind is usually, “What do you do?” I tend to not lead with that. I often first approach someone I already know and ask about their family or a project I know they have been working on. It starts a less formal conversation. Then when someone inevitably approaches us… we can bring them into what we were already speaking about. I feel this more informal manner really solidifies relationships on a deeper level, making these events easier to handle in the future. It’s like working but socializing with friends at the same time
This morning I was chatting with someone I know more for her work background than her family… I mentioned my daughter is struggling with allergies… and she had stated her son was as well. We began to share stories and remedies and how it effects our entrepreneurial schedules. Someone stepped into the conversation to make an introduction… He apologized and we quipped that we were chatting about our kids… he quickly stated, “That is wasting precious networking time!” Without a blink I replied, “no, actually I feel closer to her because we have something in common other than work. We are building Know, Like and Trust and that is really important in business. So, I don’t think it is a waste of time at all.” He sort of stared and then said, ok…
At first I thought it was the difference between how Men and Women network… but then the man next to him said, “I have kids too… how old are yours?” Turns out we have kids the same ages. We chatted about them a bit, where they go to school and then about how we each got started in our businesses… all before we even knew what each other did. Turns out we CAN use each other’s business, but I am much more likely to follow up because we have a connection.
I live by the philosophy that I DON’T want to be a business card collector. I would MUCH rather make 1 or 2 strong connections than have a handful of business cards. The more I network, the more relationships I create… I once heard Networking compared to a spider web… we are all interconnected. Once you make a good connection it leads to MANY more… It can also work the other way.
What kind of networker are YOU?