Connecting Is the Key to Magical Networking
Columnist: Jill Lublin
May, 2007 Issue
Something strange happens to many people when they approach networking opportunities. They suddenly forget how to connect, simply going through the motions of shaking hands and exchanging business cards. Networking becomes a chore—part of a business plan that is carried out with apprehension and some degree of loathing. It doesn’t have to be this way. Networking magic happens through your connections—and your connections are what create a fulfilling life.
Your first step—start with your heart.
Real connections come from true, heart-felt and honest interactions. Shed your business persona and be yourself. If you’ve got a line drawn between your personal and business connections, erase that line. Start connecting with others as if each person might end up as your best friend. The formula for connecting from your heart is simple: you’ll like who you’re being, and you’ll naturally attract like-minded, quality people. People you meet are more likely to introduce you to their friends and associates if they like you.
Honest curiosity and vulnerability are key. Intimate connections are the foundation upon which we build satisfied lives, and the best connections are heart-centered connections. Don’t think for a minute that success in business requires a stoic business persona. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Maintain an attitude of service.
Great connections are the ultimate life and business builders, and all great connections are based on a positive attitude of serving. Sure, we can’t stay in business for long if we give everything away. But, there’s a fascinating paradox I’ve discovered in my many years of networking and creating connections: The more I give, the more I get.
Approach each interaction with an eye toward providing service. Find out what a client needs, and if you can’t provide the answers, then steer her toward someone you know. You’re not giving your business away, but you are always thinking of ways you can be of service to others. A service-oriented attitude is perhaps the most magical networking tool available. You’ll be amazed at how swiftly and abundantly it comes back your way.
It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.
Those with the largest database of business cards don’t necessarily win. Unless you’ve honestly connected with the most influential people in your database, having their names will do you little good. Put your energy toward creating close connections with those who can have the most positive influence in your life—and don’t limit your search to business connections.
Think in terms of how you can help these people: by connecting them with others you know, by providing a unique service or simply by being a friend. Make yourself available and they’ll respond in kind when you’re in need. Ask yourself: Who are the most influential people in my industry? Who are the people with whom I’d most like to associate? Then start developing strategies to meet those people. What’s most important is to connect with those who are most like how you want to be. And don’t for a moment believe that some people are out of your reach. Aim high and you’ll reach high.
Connecting isn’t a solo trip.
Great networking isn’t about out-maneuvering your competition. The best networkers think in terms of collaboration, not competition, even with their fiercest competitors. How might two or three of you band together to provide products or services to more high-end, high-paying customers? How can you enlist the help of people around the globe in your R&D efforts?
Connecting by its very nature is collaborative. Instead of collecting business cards and sending out brochures, seek out people with whom you might collaborate and build strong connections. You might meet someone with a brilliant idea who’s looking for a partner with your expertise. Or, you might form a mastermind group to brainstorm innovative ways to improve your business while holding each other accountable for implementing these new ideas. Best of all, you’ll create new friendships that enrich your life.
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