“I personally really dislike “business networking” events. At almost every one of these events, it seems like the goal is to walk around and find people to trade business cards with, with the hope of meeting someone who can help you out in business and in exchange you can help that person out somehow. I generally try to avoid those type of events, and I rarely carry any business cards around with me.
Instead, I prefer to focus on just building relationships and getting to know people as just people, regardless of their position in the business world or even if they’re not from the business world. I believe there is something interesting about anyone and everyone–you just have to figure out what that something is. If anything, I’ve found that it’s more interesting to build relationships with people that are NOT in the business world because they almost always can offer unique perspectives and insights, and also because those relationships tend to be more genuine. ”
-Tony Hsieh (CEO Zappos.com & author of Delivering Happiness) excerpt he wrote for “The Trump Card: Playing to Win in Work in Life”
I read this and said to myself “Me Too!” The lesson came flying through as I recalled the experiences of a couple other favorite mentors.
I’ve always been called a “connector”, “networker” and most of the networking I’ve witnessed is NOT the networking that ever resonated with me. Sure, I’ve been and go to several “business networking” events and all due respect to organizers that mean well, none have left me feeling “wow, I love this” even when I set the intention that I’d go with the only objective of meeting nice people.
As I reflect on the most productive, genuinely abundant and enjoyable connections I’ve cultivated, it’s always been via activities where the main objective was NOT networking. In other words, it was via Toastmasters, a meetup around a topic of interest.
Ultimately it’s FUN and I get to see WHO someone really is, not what they do…that’s what matters. If I like “how” they show up in the world and who they are as a person, it’s highly likely that we will do business at some point, whether I’m telling my friends about them or engage them personally. You might be surprised how much business has come from the travel meetup, pug meetup, Toastmasters, the snowboard club or hiking group!
This is really a huge a-ha. It’s one of those moments where I rejected my gut and experience and chose to follow guidance of someone that I felt was smarter and wiser. When in fact, it is THEIR experience, not mine. It may work for them, not me.
Lesson: I’ll keep “networking” through activities I enjoy, cultivating relationships deeper vs. broader for the sake of the relationship itself.
You choose what works for you. Experiment. Act. Analyze. Adjust!
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