The New Way of Networking – Creating Connections

The New Way of Networking

I was asked recently to help train a group of business owners as part of the local Chamber of Commerce here in Cambridge, NZ.

I really enjoyed the event – 40 people there, and aside from almost burning myself because I lingered too much in front of the open fire, the feedback afterwards was hugely positive, and the stories I’ve heard of people using what I shared since have been great too.

Mindful that in this group a large number of them didn’t really enjoy networking, until I shared a new way to think about it…

So what did I teach those who were there that saw animated discussions as soon as I said “Go!”?

Three things:

1. How to look at Networking differently

2. The old and new way of Networking

3. The questions you can ask to make a difference

(and I gave everyone there a business card size double sided prompter card for them to use and keep to help them, download yours here: Networking Prompter Card Sheet) <- there is a sheet of the cards here so when you print, you can either give the extras to others, or have a stash for your own use as part of your networking. You’re very welcome. 🙂

Let me walk through the three points for you now:

#1 How to look at networking differently

Many people loathe networking. It feels like hard work:

To talk to people you don’t know, make the effort with people potentially that you won’t like or enjoy talking to.

Sound familiar?

I was honest to share with the group that some days I don’t feel like networking either, even though I teach others how to do it, but there are tricks to make sure you can make the best of it, and look forward to getting out and about…

It’s OK not to like everyone

The first part of looking at networking differently is to recognise that there are some people you will like, and others you won’t. And that’s ok.

When you realise that, then you can be on the look out for those you do strike up a rapport with, you can shoot the breeze with quickly, and just generally have a chat.

If you start talking to someone that you don’t enjoy, easy: just politely excuse yourself and move on. You’re not right for each other, so why try and force it?

That’s the likeability scale. You won’t like everyone, and everyone won’t like you, it’s just a fact of life.

Create that Special Connection

The second piece of the new way of networking, once you’re happy on the likeability front, it to change the word “Networking” to “Creating a Connection” – the term networking for me could easily be changed for ‘search and destroy’: “I must find people to sell to”.

No thanks, that’s not for me.

But what I do like is when I get to know someone, and create that connection to better understand them.

So if you change the word NETWORKING to Create a Connection, does that help? Feel better already?

The room where nodding when I asked this question, I hope this is helping you too.

Now we’re looking forward to meeting new people that we’ll enjoy talking to (because we like them), and we’re excited to make new connections, here’s a way to do it:

#2 The Old and New Way of Networking

I won’t go into this in too much detail, because you should have already downloaded the prompter card (if you haven’t, get it here: Prompter card download)

On the card, I’ve got the list side by side – the old way – push, sell, push, sell, search, destroy…

…and then the new way: “How can I help you?”, “what can I do to make your life better or easier?”, etc…

I’m assuming you’ve downloaded and are looking at the list now?

See the difference?

You might think this is common sense as you look at the list – that’s great if you do, as long as you’re using it when building connections when you’re meeting new people.

You may have been taught the ‘old’ sales way, and now you’re realising that there is a much nicer way to do it.

Either way, the list side by side is a way for you to easily see the difference, and also act as prompters of what you can be thinking, while you’re listening, to help the other person.

Which brings me on to another important topic: Listening.

Listening – the underused talent you have

Listen much more than you talk if you can.

Listen to learn about the other person.

You’re listening for opportunities where you can help them, add value to them.

The more you add value to the other person, the more memorable you will be, with surprisingly little effort.

Why? because the other person will hugely appreciate you helping them when you do add value, and the law of reciprosity kicks in, and they will naturally want to return the help sometime.

IMPORTANT: But always give, without expecting anything in return.

So now you’re talking to someone you’re enjoying talking to, you’re listening intently in case you can help them and working on building a connection – good job.

As the last little help I can give you here are the questions you should be armed with, to ask, so you can switch your listening skills on, and let the connection building grow from there…

#3 The Questions you can ask to make a difference

The questions are on the flip side of the prompter card (once you’ve printed it and cut it out).

Those 5 questions lead you naturally through the steps to find out about the other person and their business, with the aim to work out how you can help them.

When you follow these steps, you’re fully prepared to meet people that you’ll enjoy spending time with, and you’ll want to help them without expecting anything in return.

And you know what?

When you do that, and you do help more and more people, the universe is a wonderful thing – it sends you back new connections and opportunities to reward you.

They might not come from those brand new connections you’ve just made, but trust me, and watch it happen – you’ll be amazed (as I constantly am).

If you’ve got any questions, if you’d like to add anything to help others or just want to say hi, please use the comments box below.

Bye for now,