Networking: Make It About Others, Not Just Yourself
There was a networking group to which I belonged. We would meet on a weekly basis. At each meeting we would go around the group twice. On the first time around, we would each briefly state who we were and what our product or service was. On the second time around, we would each talk about what business we were looking to obtain perhaps by stating a particular organization, or an industry, or a type of company that would be a good partner for us.
One week, the leader of the group suggested a slight change to our routine. Instead of introducing yourself and talking about what business that each of us wanted, he asked us to introduce the person seated next to us.
We managed to make our way through this exercise but not without some degree of consternation.
Previously, we were focused on ourselves. Each one of us was concerned about how do I best describe myself and who is it that I want as customers. Of course, it is important to know who we are and what we want.
With this self-centered focus, we were almost not hearing the other people. If we do not adequately listen to others, then we will have trouble helping them to meet their goals. If we do not help others, then why would we expect them to help us.
By actually listening to others and trying to help them, they are more likely to try to return the favor. By caring about others, we start to form a strong relationship, whereby they are more willing to recommend us to their contacts.
It takes effort to build a good, strong, and positive relationship. We do not want to jeopardize these relationships, by simply referring someone, because they are members of the same networking group. However, it can be easy to recommend someone who has looked out for you and who is likely to do the same with one of your good contacts.
Make it about others, not just yourself.