The Dividends of Networking
Joshua Davidson wrote this article
Networking is hands-down the most underrated aspect of business.
I know you’re probably thinking to yourself, what the hell are you talking about Josh? Everybody networks; networking events are a big deal, social networks are all the rage in particular because of networking. Listen, I completely agree with you. With that said, networking for most people is not even reaching 5% of its potential.
The issue is that for most, networking is a quantity game, a statistical approach for finding business or using connections to better your own stance (it could be business related, or it could be a personal matter). Most hope that for every fifty people they meet, one may turn into a business opportunity, a knowledge opportunity, or maybe even a friendship. That’s not good though. I understand that you are in a better position than before — but there is a reason why people hate the individuals at an event that just jump into handing someone a business card and blowing up their email for weeks after an event has ended (I know who you are, marketers…).
Networking to me is much more. If I am talking to fifty people, I am fully looking to build a relationship with those fifty people. Part of that could be the leverage of having fifty people more in my network, of course. Leverage is the undisputed king when it comes to anything that you do in your life, as a business, as a brand. Don’t believe me? Read this article. With that said, the dividends for having a relationship sure out-paces the idea of forty-nine out of fifty people never talking to you again (or even remembering you). That’s not why we are in business. We want to help people and grow each other, better ourselves as a society and make an impact.
Instead, approach networking with the idea of sharing value. Value could be assisting someone at an early-stage of startup growth. Providing real insight to a problem someone is facing that you have already been through. Offering honest feedback on how to scale a company. Building a friendship (you would be surprised by how many amazing people I am proud to call my friends that have been met at a networking event in the past). Don’t just network for the purpose of business opportunities. Network for the purpose of meeting like-minded individuals that can both help you and you can help them, and provide value in any circumstance.
As mentioned, the dividends will surpass the quantity approach. If I now maintain a relationship with fifty people, I can do so much more. I could ask to use their networks to help get the word out there about my business. I can use them to help better improve myself personally, receive feedback on what I am doing wrong (and right), and how to improve aspects that someone in my network would have the knowledge base to assist with. Even if it’s someone who may not require my services today, if I build that relationship (potentially that friendship), spend the time to foster it, grow it, help one another — and then, that individual turns into someone needing our services, you know what happens? They don’t even consider looking anywhere else. You have built that level of trust. You have built that bond. You have become that thought-leader. The dividends that will pay will surpass anything one networking event or one situation can bring.
Always look at the long-term, not the short-term, even if it is hard to do. Networking isn’t a quantity game, nor is it a statistic. Networking is about building for down the road. A year from now. Five years from now. Your next business venture. The next time you want to lose weight. The next time you want to learn a new skill-set. Networking will always pay the best dividends when you focus on being a person and treating people like people. Stop approaching it like a cold-calling sales approach. You may be successful in the short-term, but I promise you that in the long-term, I’ll always be in a better position than you (and others who approach networking with the same mentality).