You probably read the title and didn’t necessarily agree that networking is fun, but you were intrigued enough to read more. If you don’t think it’s fun, we probably have a different definition or approach of networking.
I know plenty of people who are highly networked and consider it a necessity of doing business, yet I know far more who say they need to start networking in case they lose their job. Sadly, many people don’t practice networking until they need something such as a job lead, referral, or recommendation. Networking then becomes a fearful activity as they live in a tight time frame to secure a job while managing the risk of rejection.
I propose that the definition of networking extends beyond a job and the industry connections where one earns a living. Networking is a life skill and a fun one to practice across all life relationships. Why? Because networking is not about asking for anything but about giving to others.
People were designed for networking, because people were designed to be in relationship with one another. Networking is about building and sustaining relationships. People get off track when they approach networking as a give and take or a score to be kept. Ninety-nine percent of networking should be giving and blessing others without the expectation of receiving anything in return. When we give, how can we be rejected? If you approach every contact as an opportunity to help, you will be surprised how your relationships strengthen.
So how do you start networking with sincerity? Ask powerful questions to learn more about people, where they are from, and their interests. You might find some interesting common ground off which to build. You might deepen the conversation by asking “-est” (extreme) type questions such as: 1) What is the biggest challenge you have faced? (2) What accomplishment are you proudest? and (3) What is your best piece of advice? You may then ask, “How can I help you?” You’ll be surprised how easy and fun it is to have a conversation when you only have a desire to connect and serve. When you do eventually find yourself in a position of need, you may find that your network turns around and asks you, “How can I help you?”
About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development. She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops that address her clients’ business needs. She has a passion to help organizations fully engage all its employees. Reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 281.793.3741 to further the conversation and determine how she can help you grow your business.