Ever wonder how you can make networking fun in a way that doesn’t feel inauthentic? Here’s how to connect gracefully while being yourself.
A Familiar Networking Scenario
Imagine this: You spend all week psyching yourself up for a local networking event. When the day finally arrives, you put on your smartest outfit, make sure your business cards are in your pocket, put on that winning smile, and head out ready to mingle and be your charming self. But when you leave the event a few hours later and head home, you find yourself feeling a bit empty – as though nothing was really gained from the experience.
Does this sound familiar?
Unfortunately, this scenario is all too recognizable for many of us business owners. I myself muddled through years of networking events feeling this way.
And then, at some point, I realized I’d been doing it all wrong. I figured out how to make networking fun.
A New Paradigm: How to Make Networking FUN
Do any of the following “old school” ways of thinking around networking sound like truths that you might hold?
1. A networking event is only truly fruitful if I find a new client/customer.
2. I’ve succeeded at a networking event if I handed out x amount of business cards.
3. After a networking event, I focus on whether I delivered my elevator pitch effectively.
I myself held onto these truths for a long time. And you know what? I almost never felt that I got anything out of the events I attended.
Now observe the following three statements which shift mindsets from “how to gain” to “how to give.”
1. A networking event is fruitful as long as I’ve made one meaningful connection.
2. I’ve succeeded at a networking event if I sought out business cards from those who sparked my interest.
3. After a networking event, I focus on the people I met and how I can best help them.
Do you see how different that feels?
It’s like a sigh of relief. I’ve found that when I shift my mindset from one of gain to one of giving, my entire networking experience is transformed.
But wait, I can hear you thinking, aren’t I ultimately going to networking events to get more business? Here’s the truth: when you go out into the world focusing on learning new things, forming connections, and giving to others – the business and the clients and the customers will come.
Ready to enter the new networking paradigm? Get started with the following 4 quick tips.
1) Focus on how you can help
Think of what people, places, or resources you can introduce to each person you speak with. This is a quick and easy way to foster a connection, and they’ll be certain to remember you. Make it into a personal game for yourself. This is one of the best ways to make networking fun.
2) Hand out your card when asked
I find time and time again that when I give someone my card without being asked, the connection generally never goes anywhere. Contrarily, the people who specifically ask for my card tend to be genuinely interested in me and prove to be the people I’m supposed to be connecting with in the first place. Coincidence? I think not.
3) Listen well
A great goal in each one of your conversations is to learn what a person does, how they help the world, and how you can help them. Learn as much as you can about each person you speak with, and you’ll be well on your way to creating valuable relationships.
4) Be authentic and you
Your goal at a networking event isn’t to make every person like you – but rather to be yourself and connect with the people who fit with and complement you and your business.
I hope that these methods will help you to enjoy your networking and creating worthwhile and lasting connections! Remember, focus on giving and connecting, and the business will follow.
Interested in more ways to build relationships? Try these other quick reads from Janelle (that’s me!) at Ellanyze: