I could leave this post as just one word and it would be one of the best pieces of advice I could give.
Successful business is about reaching more people. Whether you are a B2C business and you want to reach more consumers, or you are a B2B and you want to reach more businesses.
The best way to do this is by networking.
Let’s look at it from the point of view of the Six Degrees Of Separation.
This is a theory which states everybody is only six steps away from being connected to everyone else in the world by way of introduction.
Think about that.
In six introductions you could be connected to everyone in the world.
Even if it took ten steps it would be crazy.
It’s this concept that has made LinkedIn the biggest business social platform on the planet. They realised that business is about making connections and by showing people how closely connected they were with others they would use the tool to connect them.
But networking is often mistaken for selling.
And that’s what I want to address today.
There is a huge difference between networking and selling yourself, and most people I meet in business do the latter.
Which is not appealing.
You don’t want to be selling yourself when you should be networking because it has the opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve.
When you’re next meeting someone at a networking event or other situation, ask yourself:
- Are you talking about how successful your business is?
- Are you talking about what you can do really well?
- Are you talking about how you’ve helped other businesses?
- Are you talking about how much money you’ve made?
- Are you talking about what you do better than others?
If you’re doing any of these things then the chances are that you’re selling yourself and not networking.
This is absolutely not what networking is about. It’s about making contacts where you may both, in the future, be able to benefit from the relationship.
You’re conversations should only touch on what you do and how you do it briefly. Then you should be talking about tests you’ve tried, mistakes you’ve made, things you’ve learned and above all else… you should be listening to what the other person is telling you.
So many times I’ve seen people glaze over when they stop speaking and start listening and immediately I decide that I don’t want to work with them because they’re not interested in business. They’re interested in themselves.
I think of networking as making new friends, not business. The first reason for this is… I don’t want to do business with people I don’t know or may not like.
The second reason is that the business benefit comes later, and may not come at all. It’s about being able to understand what may help another person, or what they’re looking for and being able to assist them in that or put them in touch with someone who can.
But this is the key…
You MUST be willing to do this for nothing in return.
If you want to be paid a connection fee for putting two people together then this is a business model and you’re selling.
However, if you become a master networker then you will find new business opportunities find you and your business will grow.