Rethinking Your Approach to Networking

I recently came across a post on the popular blog, Attorney at Work, that spoke about adjusting your approach networking to make it not only productive, but (gasp) enjoyable. The author, Stephanie Hanna, provided a straight-forward, common sense approach that resonated with me. This time of year provides a myriad of networking opportunities.  From business events to personal gatherings, you will have the opportunity to talk to people about all kinds of things. You may make new acquaintances or see someone you haven’t connected with for a while. Either way, it’s important to think through your approach to networking before you enter the events. In Stephanie’s post, she suggests a “networking attitude adjustment” of sorts.  Below is a recap of what she had to say, with a few thoughts of my own:

It is better to give than to receive– instead of approaching your conversations with “what’s in it for me”, adjust your thinking to “how can I help.”  It is far more fun to give something away than to ask for what you want when networking. Save that “ask” for when you reach an appropriate time to request business opportunities.  What can you give away? Connections, recommendations, suggestions and helpful feedback. By genuinely helping someone, you will feel great and they will learn that you are a reliable resource. Trust me, you will certainly receive something in return over time.

Life is a marathon, not a race–  meaningful and productive relationships take time to build. Over time, you will build your reputation for being sincere and honest in your relationships. Rushing ahead and asking people to help you can back-fire. Instead, always look for the long-term investment. And, never ghost people and then show up when you need something.

Be selective– networking is about meeting the right people who you want to know. Look for chemistry, relevant conversations and genuinely nice people.

Networking can be a powerful tool in your overall business development strategy. Before you go to an event, take time to identify your goals for attending. It may be that you want to meet one interesting person, reconnect with former colleagues or to get a feel for a group where you may want to spend more time in the future. Once you know that, it is easier to consider what approach will help you achieve those goals. Whatever you select, always be sincere, friendly and open minded. This holiday season is a good time to try this “attitude adjustment” on for size. It could be translate into a “whole new you” for networking in the new year!