I had a conversation with a friend the other day about networking. They wondered what I got out of spending so much time with new friends and business associates. To be frank, I thought they were kidding. I mean, I don’t really get anything. Usually, I buy my new associate coffee or a meal and just spend most of my time listening. I don’t give them a sales pitch, I don’t ask for their business and I don’t (usually) leave them with any sales flyers/literature. Instead of getting anything from networking, I do the exact opposite- I give.
I have found that networking is more about generosity rather than gaining any sort of immediate reward. I often hear my new associates’ troubles in the conversation. Maybe they are having a hard time getting health insurance or maybe their website stinks. When I hear these things, I do what comes naturally for me; I connect them with people I know and trust. I make sure that they have someone they can rely on when the going gets tough. The beauty of networking is that when you need help, all you have to do is extend your hand. If you have built your network properly, there will always be someone there to help you.
So the next time you get invited to a “boring” networking function, go. Try to meet as many interesting people as possible and learn all about them. Find out what makes them happy; learn about their business and then try to connect the dots. Your new friend will be happy to have met you and the cycle will continue. More selfless networking leads to a mindset of abundance vs scarcity; which is a pretty cool place to be.
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