I can hear your office chatter now.
BOSS: Jane, did you know The Chamber is having a Schmooze again this week?
JANE: What’s a Schmooze?
BOSS: A networking program put on by The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce to help business professionals get better connected. We’re a member and we really should take advantage of it!
JANE: Do I have to go to it?…
BOSS: No, of course you don’t have to go to it. You could stay here and sit in your office. But if you choose not to go, you won’t have the chance to learn something, to help others, to get new ideas, or maybe even generate some new business.
JANE: But Boss, I don’t do well at those networking things, I am too self conscious and besides, you know I’m shy.
It is true, some people aren’t as outgoing as others, but I highly doubt that anyone reading this is a hermit. We all like to be around people. (Most of the time.) Why do we have to be so timid about building relationships?
I hear all sorts of excuses for not going to networking events:
“I already know a lot of people.”
“I’m too busy I have other things to do.”
“Everyone there is in a clique – I won’t have anyone to talk to.”
“I hate those things.”
“I get scared.”
“The right people aren’t there.”
“I don’t know what to wear.”
“I don’t know what to say or talk about.”
“I never get anything out of it.”
That’s right – they are excuses, or they are based on misinformation about what networking is or can be.
You will have the most fun and gain the most from networking opportunities when you stop worrying about yourself, what you are going to say and what you are going to wear. (Here’s a hint, most people have those same causes for hesitation.)
Networking is about forming relationships and forming relationships works best when you remember Dale Carnegie’s quote, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
Or let me state it differently…be interested, not interesting.
Just so you know, many of the above excuses go away once you understand that networking events are for meeting and learning about others and their interests.
Be interested – ask questions about people’s business, how they got involved, what sets them apart, what they love about it. Ask about their perfect customer, their interests and their family.
As you listen see what connections you can make for them to help them reach their goals.
By being interested the dread is removed. By being interested we become less self conscious. By being interested we form relationships.
Being interested means remaining interested and following up with people afterwards. If you promised to get them someone’s phone number, the name of that book you are reading, or introduce them to someone, do it right away. You will be seen as a person of your word, but you will reinforce your interest in the other person.
While it may sound contradictory, by being interested in others, they become more interested in our success and us as well. You will have created a double win – you will gain from the networking experience as much or more than you gave, all because you gave first.
It all starts with being interested. Invest in your success by investing first in others.
So now comes the challenge… Don’t let this great networking opportunity pass you by. Come Schmooze with me, this Wednesday, May 12 at the Kansas City Power & Light District.
I’ll be interested to hear your results!