21st Century Networking – Give 2 Get 2 Give
Over the years, I’ve spoken and written about networking and have successfully developed networking organizations. It would have been easy to look back and pull from one of those articles or a speech but I believe it’s time for an information reboot which is why I ran a search on the word “networking”. Before we get much deeper into this article, you should know that I prefer to use the expressions ‘making connections’ or ‘forming relationships’ over the word networking but for our purposes here, I will use the widely accepted terminology.
The following topics appeared under “related searches for networking”: professional networking 101, why is networking important to your success, tips for networking, importance of professional networking, benefits of networking, professional networking, how to use networking to find a job, what is networking, how to network (with pictures), learn to love networking, and pages upon pages more.
Everyone, every company from Inc. to HBR has offered hundreds of articles on networking!
Even HBR (Harvard Business Review) refers to networking as a necessity backed up by “mountains of research”. What can I possibly say that is new, different, fresh or even remotely interesting about a topic that has been beaten, literally, to death. And, if we are truly honest, most of us dislike the very idea of networking.
Allow me to offer one small bit of advice or strategy that may change your perspective on networking. Advice that might have you saying to yourself and to others that you are attending an event to “make connections” or “form new relationships” rather than to network. Here’s an example of a change I made to the title of an event after I’d made the decision to stop using the word, networking. The event was originally called “Final Friday Networking Breakfast”.
Today it’s called, “3C – Coffee, Conversations and Connections.” Which appeals to you?
“The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity.” Keith Ferrazi.
How many times have you heard, “I’m not going to attend (sic) this event anymore. I haven’t gotten any business from this organization”? I’ve heard it more times than I care to remember or count. For a long time, I tried to convince those who felt that way about the networking events I either organized or attended, that if they’d only stick it out something would come through. That argument never worked because I was wrong.
One day, a speaker I’d retained for a women’s small business conference in 2013 gave me the ‘aha moment’ that changed my perspective forever. He told a story about bringing on a small woman owned business to help him fulfill a portion of a large corporate contract he’d just won. The CEO of that business was sitting in the audience and he called her out – the room exploded in applause.
Once the noise died down, the speaker explained that if one approaches everything with this simple phrase in mind, success will follow: Give 2 Get 2 Give or G2G2G.
I can guarantee you that almost every woman in the audience at that women’s small business conference luncheon walked out with a renewed sense of purpose and openness. Each was prepared to listen and to learn from one another, to share and to give the gift of self.
You might say to yourself, “What do I have to give?” “I don’t know anyone in this room.” “How could I possibly help someone as accomplished as the people in this group?” Stop it! The exercise is not to think of what you can give, but to open yourself to the possibility of giving. Walk into the room with a giving attitude. Be ready to give the gift of self. Give 2 Get 2 Give
In an article by Tiziana Casciaro, Francesca Gina and Maryam Kouchaki for HBR titled “Learn to Love Networking”, one of the four strategies they put forth to overcome dislike of networking was ‘Think Broadly About What You Can Give.” The strategy ends with “When you think more about what you can give to others than what you can get from them, networking will seem less self-promotional and more selfless – and therefore worthier of your time.”
Today I walk into a room with purpose and confidence because I am focused on finding something valuable to offer others by thinking beyond the obvious.
Acknowledge your frustration, and don’t try to bottle it up. Having an outlet for that frustration will help you overcome it. Do whatever takes your mind off of work – take up a new hobby, play with your children or pets, listen to music. Experiment until you find what brings you the most stress relief.
Sometimes this isn’t easy and it most definitely requires the ability to connect with another human being beyond what they do for a living. I attempt to lead them into telling me a story about themselves. Stories define us, are much more interesting than small talk and give us fodder for continued conversations.
The next time you attend an event, walk in with your story, walk out with the stories of others.
Don’t network, connect. G2G2G
I’d love to hear your G2G2G stories! Let me know in the comments below.