Saturday Musings - Why Networking is a Bad Idea

Saturday Musings - Why Networking is a Bad Idea

I can’t stand the term “networking”. It really iterates me when I hear people talk about “great network opportunities” when they refer to a conference. The reason I don’t like the term is that it’s completely self-centered. It’s all about what you can get out of something or someone.

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How many times have you been in a conversation with someone where the only reason they want to get to know you is because of who you work for or the position you hold? You’re merely the stepping stone for them to sell some product or service. They actually don’t care about you and developing a friendship is the furthest thing from their thinking.

Yes, in business we all do transactions with one another but there is a right way and a wrong way to treat people along the journey. Networking is all about getting something…..I think we should flip the model on its head and work out what we can give.

For example, as many of you know my family came with me to NamesCon and my eldest daughter attended a lot of meetings with me. She wanted to get some experience in how to have a “business meeting” and was petrified that she would do or say something wrong. I told her not to worry and I explained the following.

In a business meeting the number one rule is to listen to the other person. If you think your product/service will help the other person then share how it can. Don’t sell. Just share. If none of your services are applicable to helping the person you’re speaking with then listen and learn from them. You can ALWAYS learn from other people as EVERYONE has something of value to share if you just listen.

Needless to say, Sarah had a great time and learned a lot.

When you meet someone, try and migrate your thinking from the networking model of “what can I get from this person” to “how can I help them”. What this will force you to do is really listen to them and you may be surprised to learn that there are some really cool people in the world.

The more you pay attention to the other person the more likely you’ll develop friendships that will naturally flow into business deals. People are getting tired of being used and having someone ask them how they can help is really refreshing.

A number of years ago I was running a website and I wanted to get some sponsors onboard. Rather than call up potential candidates and do the hard sell I asked if I could take them out for a coffee and learn about their business to see if I could help them out.

This completely transformed the conversation as most people really like to share about something they are passionate about. Regardless of whether there was a deal or not I was solely focused on how I could help them. In the end, I did gain a lot of sponsorship agreements as the more I worked on helping the other person the more they wanted to reciprocate. To this day, I still have many friends from those conversations.

Now here’s the catch. You need to be genuine in your desire to help. If you’re using it as just another sales tool then people will smell a rat and run a mile away. This means that if you can help and there’s no deal then you’ll still do it. You will serve the other person regardless of the benefit to yourself…..this is called self-sacrificing.

This year Roselyn and I will be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary and when people hear this they ask, “How do you do it?” For me, it’s all about listening to my wife and then serving her needs. It’s not about my own desires. I’ve found that miraculously, if I focus on her then she does the same to me. As soon as I have thoughts such as, “Why don’t you do XXXX for me?” then I know I’ve lost sight of her and have become focused on my own selfish desires.

I know that many people believe that if they have a servant attitude then they will be trampled. Sadly, some people will do this while I’ve found the great majority will respect you all the more for your selfless attitude. In fact, you may get a pleasant surprise of how transformational having a servant attitude can be to all your relationships.

I also hope you see a similarity between my approach to my marriage and also business. It’s learning to listen, to serve and being committed to the long-term with the person. I wish that I got it right all the time……I don’t.

I’ve had many business conversations where at the end of them I suddenly realise that in my excitement I did all the talking and had no idea about the person I was speaking to. It’s nice to know that we are all on a life journey and every now and then we’ll trip up but at least let’s keep on going.

I hope I’ve given you some food for thought in this article. I would love to hear from readers about their own experiences with “networking” versus developing lasting relationships.

Have a great weekend!

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Comments

Rawgi on 28 May 2017
Networking

I have found that I have to keep check on my enthusiasm when meeting new people or I forget to listen. Having been around the block a few times and learning many things, I find that people are always willing to try and get to share what I have learned. Many times they just want to save money, sometimes as in my last job, the fellow employee is jealous of what I know. So he asks for help and gleans what he wants with questions and watching, then proceeds to get rid of me. A bit extreme, but it happens. I have always tried to help when i can and learn from each person, as you said, everyone has something unique to them and you can always learn something from anyone. I also like your outlook as applied to marriage and business. Like you said some will take advantage, but most will offer their own take and I believe if you always treat your partner like she is the most important part of your life that makes you complete, you should do just fine.

I have found that I have to keep check on my enthusiasm when meeting new people or I forget to listen. Having been around the block a few times and learning many things, I find that people are always willing to try and get to share what I have learned. Many times they just want to save money, sometimes as in my last job, the fellow employee is jealous of what I know. So he asks for help and gleans what he wants with questions and watching, then proceeds to get rid of me. A bit extreme, but it happens. I have always tried to help when i can and learn from each person, as you said, everyone has something unique to them and you can always learn something from anyone. I also like your outlook as applied to marriage and business. Like you said some will take advantage, but most will offer their own take and I believe if you always treat your partner like she is the most important part of your life that makes you complete, you should do just fine.
mgilmour on 29 May 2017

As always.....thank you Rawgi for sharing your own experiences on this topic. There are always people that will try and take advantage of someone that openly tries to help but ultimately these people are robbing themselves of the gift of friendship.

As always.....thank you Rawgi for sharing your own experiences on this topic. There are always people that will try and take advantage of someone that openly tries to help but ultimately these people are robbing themselves of the gift of friendship.
Wolftalker on 31 May 2017
Wise words.

Wise Words.

Wise Words.
Rawgi on 01 June 2017
Friends

I left out the most important part. You can never have too many friends and good ones are hard to find. You must be open all the time because you never know where you will find the next good friend. I thankfully met one on an online game and that is how I came to be here. I have learned so much on this site, very good information and some great writing too.

I left out the most important part. You can never have too many friends and good ones are hard to find. You must be open all the time because you never know where you will find the next good friend. I thankfully met one on an online game and that is how I came to be here. I have learned so much on this site, very good information and some great writing too.
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Friday, 15 December 2017