Has this ever happened to you?
You’re drained and going back home after a late networking mixer.
You have a few new business cards in your pocket and feel you’ve done your best to ‘work the room’.
Yet at the same time, you have that sour feeling that you’ve just wasted a perfectly fine evening meeting people who realistically, won’t be helping you grow your business.
I know the feeling. That’s how I felt when I started frequenting almost every local networking mixer. I grew a big network of people who knew me but who added little value to my business.
It turns out I was doing a lot wrong. The more I studied networking, the more I began uncovering false beliefs that were keeping me from taking my professional network to the next level.
The first step to succeeding with business networking involves having the right mindset and ideas. So let’s begin debunking some major networking myths that may be seriously holding you back.
Myth 1: Your network is limited to the people you know
Pro networkers realize that the most valuable connections in their network are probably second-degree connections.
A second-degree connection is somebody you are not directly connected with, but who is directly connected to somebody in your network (i.e. a friend of a friend).
Your second degree network is much, much larger than your first degree network, and it probably already includes people who could seriously transform your business.
If you want to have a high-value network, growing your second-degree network is crucial. This is why you should never dismiss networking with people who aren’t in your ‘target market’. Their network might very well include your ‘target market’.
Myth 2: The more business cards you get, the better!
Networking is not a numbers game. It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality.
Having ten close contacts who are ready to support you, is much better than knowing a hundred people who recognize you but won’t hold out a helping hand.
A4. Connect with a FEW people more solidly instead of trying to meet everyone. #BizChats
— Jordan Harbinger (@TheArtofCharm) September 9, 2015
If you have just met someone who you can really connect with and build a solid relationship with, there’s no reason to hurry the conversation. You’re a person not a robot (and people appreciate being treated like people).
Myth 3: It’s all about what this person can do for me!
This is by far the biggest mistake I see people do at networking mixers. Many people dive into networking with the “Let’s see who can help me” approach. Wrong! First and foremost, networking is about finding ways in which you can help somebody else. After you have helped enough people, and showed that you are somebody who is competent, likeable and trustworthy, then you’ll start getting back more than you expect. But if you skip this first step. If you don’t help others and show that you are competent, likeable and trustworthy, then it’s like eating a meal before it is cooked. If you don’t spend time cooking, everything is going to remain raw. Does your network feel raw?
Myth 4: Networking events are the only way to network
Actually a great way to network is by actually developing stronger relationships with people you already know. Perhaps you might be able to help them out in some way. Perhaps in the future they might recommend you to someone in their network.
Another great way to find people who are a good match for you is to use Scheduit, our business match-making app. Through its unique machine learning algorithm, it automatically identifies other professionals who you could form complementary relationships.
Then through the app itself, you can make first contact and schedule a meeting.
If you haven’t tried it yet, click here to try Scheduit online.
Myth 5: Business networking is boring
This really has to do with your mindset when you go into a networking mixer.
A big part of networking is really just about finding other people that you resonate with.
Many times business networking is deemed to be boring because people get anxious while networking. Keep in mind that if you’re at an event and you don’t find a person that resonates with you, that’s completely okay. It’s not the end of the world.
Here are some helpful tips to help you feel good at networking events:
- make sure you enter the networking event with a smile. Even if it’s a ‘fake smile’ it will still make you feel better. It also makes you easier to speak with.
- stretch before an event. Making yourself big subconsciously gives you a confidence boost.
- get to the event early so that when you arrive, you don’t have to worry about interrupting conversations to speak with people but you can start conversations yourself.
Myth 6: Networking is sleazy
This depends. If you view networking as selling your services to others, then yes. It can be sleazy.
But by now you know that expert networkers see networking as an opportunity to help others. Helping people is definitely not sleazy.
This mindset that sees networking as sleazy is actually a limiting belief that can keep you from trying your best to be the best networker you can be.
Many times the people who say networking is sleazy aren’t very good at it. There is nothing wrong with helping people and building professional relationships, even if at the back of your mind you know it’s going to help you in the long term.
Actually, your whole business should be about helping people in some way or another, and networking is just an extension of that.Do you think business networking is sleazy? Think again. See here: http://ctt.ec/b7tCB+ Click To Tweet
Myth 7: Networking is for people with not enough work
If this were true, successful people wouldn’t network. Yet they do all the time.
Millionaires network with other millionaires. Celebrities with other celebrities. Even important diplomats network with each other.
Networking is a great long-term strategy to help you find the right opportunities and partnerships to grow your business.
Showing up at a networking event doesn’t mean you’re looking for short-term sales. It means you are open-minded about developing mutually beneficial professional relationships with others. And that’s good.
Myth 8: Networking is about who you know
Many people have got this the wrong way.
Networking is not about who you know. It’s about who knows you, likes you, and trusts you!
Someone who has a close relationship with you is more likely to help you achieve your goals.
You know that person who always gets what he wants? It’s not because he knows a lot of people. It’s because many people want to help him.
Myth 9: You need to be an extrovert to network
I’m an introvert, I’m very reserved and I’m the type of person who had to read a book about starting conversations in order to know what to say in ordinary social situations. Despite all that (and not to boast), I’m an award-winning networker.
Based on my own story, I’d say that introverts can network just fine.
It’s really about being the kind of person who brings something to the table. Having that reputation, people will want to be around you, at your table.
Make sure your pie is the best pie on the table. Be generous. Help people.
Myth 10: Networking is cheating
Some people compare networking with nepotism.
It’s totally different.
Nepotism is when you receive preferential treatment because you are related.
Networking is when you strategically invest in relationships by helping people in a way that is inline with your mission and values.
If you’re investing in growing your network, that should not make you feel guilty. If anything, it should make you feel good because your network will help you achieve your purpose faster and the purpose of most businesses involves helping people in some way.
Myth 11: Networking ends when you leave the event
This is a big one. One of the most common mistake I see.
One of the open secrets to successful networking is to always follow-up. The gold is in the follow-up.
Always follow-up with a short, custom message that adds value. One trick I like to use is to share an e-book I wrote about Facebook Marketing with people who I think might be interested in the subject.
Sharing something of value is a great way to differentiate yourself and leave a positive impression on people.
Finally, always remember to share your social media details so you may connect on networks like Twitter and LinkedIn. I also like to invite them to announce their presence on Scheduit, as that way I’d know when they are available for a meeting.
Start networking like a pro!
Networking can change your life.
Meeting just one person can transform your business.
To meet that special person, you have to be a good person. A generous person. The type of person who gives so much that people will want to introduce you to their best contacts, so that they too can benefit from knowing you.
People will want to share your contact, with their network.
Imagine the opportunities that opens up for you. With the right mindset and ideas, that will happen to you.
You just have to stop believing the lies about networking, and start being the person everybody wants to know!
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