Re-frame Your Networking Strategy

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Congratulations if you have a great networking strategy that energizes you!  If you would rather call in sick than attend another networking-like event, then an adjustment in strategy may help.  Traditional self-help in this area has focused on personal branding, elevator pitches, professional appearance and even handshake methodology.  Instead of working to juggle a dozen tiny tweaks that have worked for others, might it not be easier to just practice introducing people to your best self?

Besides the traditional organizations that some people actually pay money to experience, network-like venues are frequent for most of us: business conferences, job fairs, non-profit and civic volunteer occasions, church events, a spouse’s work gatherings, wedding dinners…. Besides wanting to survive the situation without being thought to be foolish, most of us have limited goals beyond telling others about the advantages received by doing business with us or promoting some other personal agenda.

“Always be networking” might unsettle your stomach, but it may not be as uncomfortable to view interactions with strangers as “opportunities to build trust bridges.”  Whether you eventually benefit from that bridge or you view it simply as a chance to practice your trust-building skills with another human, it puts a different spin on the typical networking strategy.  You may already be doing this without calling it such, but the awareness can be energizing.

How Does Building Personal Trust Sound?

It sounds like using more questions than statements in your conversations;
… like asking specifics about the other person’s successes and challenges;
… like listening and confirming your understanding of their world.

It may sound like applying your expertise to questions that build their confidence in your competence;
… like offering the name of an acquaintance or organization that could impact their goals;
… like confirming an idea of how you could recommend them to others;
… like sharing solutions from your expertise tied directly to a challenge they describe.

Networking is miserable for many of us because we feel we are the center of attention.  Invite others to you and host the conversation.  You will be shocked at how painless it is to focus the attention on others and how often that turns into your growth, enjoyment or benefit.

These same skills are used by the best business leaders to lay an effective foundation for employee engagement!  If you didn’t see that connection, we might have more to offer you.  Let’s talk about building the kind of trust that builds your career opportunities!