Connections That Count

Chiming in on thoughts about the whole networking game here. Stay with me. Over the many years of networking under my belt, I’ve seen it all. I’m always shocked to see the attempts people will go to – to stalk connections with big names, hoping that they will get that meeting, or big break.

It’s a backwards approach.

My 2c.

Educate others, and work hard to accomplish your business, product, or service first, then share that value. It will attract the right network.

For any aspiring or established entrepreneur, the outcome of your work and achievements will draw in peers, mentors, advisors, and potential investors. They will share with others too.

Look at Sara Blakely and Spanx. Spanx took off when Oprah Winfrey chose it as one of her favorite things of the year — but not because she was stalked by Sara. For two and a half years, Sara sold fax machines by day so that she could build her prototype of pantyhose by night. She sent one from her first production batch to Oprah.

Networks always help, of course. But, educating others and refining your accomplishments first is always the driver. A ‘what can I get’ networking approach yields empty transactions, not long-term relationships.

What is your business all about and what do you do? Tout this!

Do you go through endless rounds of conversations that go nowhere? And then have no memory of that interaction or intended outcome? Take a step back before you engage in or agree to a meeting and ask yourself – what is the objective for this meeting?

Can you clearly explain the work of those you may have met at recent networking events? If you’ve had 1-1 meetings with them, what was the outcome and result? Was it a good use of time?

Oftentimes we get caught up thinking that meeting important people will create miracles for us and perhaps improve our work. Put time and work into your business first, and then you will get the attention of others. Education creates the pathway to ideas and opportunities. Your accomplishments show you have something to give, not just something to take, and others will take note.

Don’t hold back on sharing what you do. Find your confidence and voice to share your values, domain experience, thoughts, ideas, strategies – and you will attract others. Remember to slow down and take your time. It’s what I call the snowball effect – small, consistent actions will lead to significant outcomes over time. Networking is not a race. Be curious, bring value, listen, and learn from others.

And, when a third party endorses you, and tells others how great you are, it’s far, far, far better than pitching yourself! I can speak firsthand my network has fueled my Executive Search business, over the years. An effective network will act as your sales team. So, let others know your expertise, and endorse them too.

The best networking happens when people gather for a purpose other than networking – to educate and learn from one another, and to help one another, and pay it forward.

Don’t feel the pressure to go to endless networking events. Focus on your work first and foremost. Let your results and output do the talking for you. Trust me, it works!