Networking Myths & Realities:|
A SUPER Savvy Approach
by Susan RoAne
So, you think "networking" is a new phenomenon? a growing trend? a buzz word? Well, it has existed since time immemorial. Proof: "No room at the inn? Can you recommend a barn ... with a manger?" Sound familiar?
Referrals, recommendations and shared information is the foundation upon which civilization has been built. The community concept is built on communication. We just need to remember that civility is crucial in networking. How we behave is as crucial as knowing the unwritten rules which must be followed.
As one of my clients raised on a farm said, "Susan, we always networked. We just called it being neighborly'." Historically, barn-raisings are the ultimate networking event.
You hammer a lot more than your point across! And, careers have always depended upon networking: the assistance of others.
There are myths about networking that must be set straight. Networking is NOT a work style; it is a LIFEstyle that can enhance our personal and professional lives.
Myth: I don't have a network.
Truth: Everybody has a network.
Even I don't have a 100 percent grasp, but as events happen, I remember people I know. Go through the periods of your life, the class photos and yearbooks. Visualize your neighborhoods and neighbors. List the names of people you remember. Think about the jobs you've had. Who were your colleagues, co-workers, competitors, vendors? You may want to do the activity on your computer, if you are so inclined. Or, like myself, with paper and pencil. Go through old address books, Christmas card and holiday lists. And, don't forget the people who are in the periphery of your life, yet are a great source: cleaner, barber/hairstylist, mechanic, computer consultant, carpool cronies, local merchants. You will not remember everyone at the first sit-down. Once it is plugged into your truly personal computer (your brain), you will begin to remember more - add names to the list.
That list is a reference tool. How we use it is as important and when and for whom. It may be to connect a nephew with a potential mentor. Or a colleague with a great mechanic. It is NOT always about us.
In time of need, people band together and help. We see it after earthquakes, fires, floods, when friends are stricken with illness. People are generally nice.
Myth: People should know what you need and offer to help.
Most people are happy to help when they are asked. At a marketing seminar we gave at the Chamber of Commerce over a decade ago, one attendee said that he was disappointed because other people often didn't assist/help/return a favor. He asked, "Shouldn't people know what I need?"
Truth: Most people don't know what they need - how can you assume they know what you need! A tenet of life and networking:
If you don't ask, the answer is always no.
RoAne Rule: How you ask may make the difference between yes and no!
Yes, Grandma was right. It is often HOW you say it, not WHAT you say.
The best of networkers ask in a way that allows people to say yes - and gives them room to say no. One of my favorite cartoons had a character explaining: "What I lack in know-how, I made up for in know who." Who we know, and who knows us, is key. How to relate to and converse with those people determines the quality of our connections.
People want to be treated as people not as contacts!
The best of networkers don't even know that they are networking - they just do: refer, match, recommend, bring people together like - Yenta, the Networker.
Myth: Networking is using people.
Truth: Networking is a reciprocal process.
It is mutually beneficial where we give and receive and share ideas, information, leads, referrals, support and tickets to cultural and sporting events, and laughter with enthusiasm, support and joy. Science has a term for it, which applies to networking: interdependence. Our grandparents had a better word: Helping.
Action: Assess the postings in your "favor bank."
Myth: I don't have much to offer, so I can't get involved.
Truth: We all have something to offer!
Our skills, interests, avocation, hobbies. While no one has ever asked me for a recipe, I can offer information on great restaurants and take out! And, tips on the publishing and professional speaking world.
The Ten Commandments of Connecting
Copyright Susan RoAne. All Rights Reserved.
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