Recognizing or identifying your network can be much more fun than it might sound. It has more in common with enjoying the best party you ever attended than the last research project you completed.
Mary Kay Cosmetics teaches new sales consultants that everyone they meet is a potential client because anyone with skin needs Mary Kay products. I dare say that everyone you meet has the potential for becoming part of your network.
Networking is the practice of gathering contacts; the process of building up or maintaining informal relationships, especially with people whose friendships could bring advantages such as job or business opportunities.
It is my firm belief that your “gathered contacts” can enrich your life whether they ever impact your job or business.
What do you want your contacts to do for you?
Zig Ziglar, noted author and motivational speaker says, “You’ll get what you want if you help enough people get what they want.”
With that in mind, what can you do for your contacts?
Bill Taylor, cofounder of Fast Company magazine says, “…’we’ is bigger than ‘me’ – the true measure of success is not the value you create for yourself but the values that define your work and how you lead and live.”
Randy Nelson, who spent years as the influential dean of Pixar University, says about the enormously talented people who work at Pixar, “It’s no trick for talented people to be interesting.” He then notes, “But it’s a gift to be interested.” In other words, success lies in being less interested in you and more interested in the world around you.
Three Things to Do When Making a New Connection
1. Be ready - with your head up, eyes open and with a smile or some other welcoming cue
2. Listen for clues to “common ground” – similar interests, background or aspirations
3. Exchange business cards or contact information and make notes for follow up
Three Things to Avoid When Making a New Connection
1. Just working the room, focusing on “what’s in it for me”
2. Bragging, focusing on yourself, which is essentially an issue of insecurity
3. Thinking you aren’t worthy of the connection, the opposite of #2
Focus on generosity and how you can help those you meet. We all have “connection capital” – what we have to offer – and knowing this should give us the confidence to approach anyone we find interesting. Be clear in what you have to offer and what you hope to add to your life with your new connections.
Keith Ferrazzi, ferrazzigreenlight.com, Keith Ferrazzi’s Tip of the Week
Tim Sanders, author of Love is the Killer App