More on Networking

Leverage a few of these simple ways to be intentional in interactions, offer real benefit to others, and build a strong “relationship” centric network.

ASK QUESTIONS > Be Authentically Interested.

Versus thinking about selling you, focus on getting to know the other person and building an authentic relationship. Show genuine curiosity in the person you are talking to and ask thoughtful, open-ended questions (vs yes and no).  It’s natural to find disclosing information about ourselves rewarding. Asking someone to share about themself or soliciting their opinion, you stimulate activity in the areas of the brain associated with reward and pleasure.

Simple questions such as, “how long have you been in the industry?” or “what makes your work challenging?’ or “what do like about your organization?” will deepen conversation and connections.

Being a Listener makes you Interesting

People naturally need to be seen and heard, and yet there is less high-quality listening in the business world.  Exceptional listeners add profound value to interactions. When people talk with a good listener, they feel less stress, more engaged, and can hold more complex nuanced thinking, and want to share more with the listener.

Be present and give your attention to your conversations, listen without interruption, and follow up with open and thoughtful questions. Avoid “sentence stepping” (takes one to know one).  Your conversational partners will find you engaged and likable. And in addition to these excellent benefits, you’re also more likely to learn something new.

SHARE EXPERIENCES AND Points of View

You have a unique perspective, gained from your professional and personal experiences. Research shows good innovative ideas are not typically born out of individual genius but instead arise from mixing with various individuals from different backgrounds and with different mindsets.

So regardless of whether you’re new to your career or industry recognize that you could help someone else see things in a new way or to begin blazing a new professional trail.  For example, you may be able to share best practices from another company or industry in which you’ve worked. Sometimes a concept may seem obvious to you is extremely valuable insight to another. Different fresh perceptions are invaluable.  We refer to this as the “OUTSIDERS” view.

Be a THOUGHTFUL Connector

The opportunity for to be a giver extends beyond an initial conversation. Think about the person you met and follow up with an article, notice of an event, or podcast recommendation that they might appreciate. Also, could you be a connector? Consider whether there is someone you know that your new acquaintance might like to meet. Think about people you know who have similar interests, hold similar positions, or are in complementary industries and offer an introduction.

If you avoid networking because it feels like over selling self-promotion, flip the script and remember what you can give. Particularly if new to your career or business remember the benefits you offer to colleagues go beyond those strictly related to work and extend to more a personal sense of connection and shared experiences: making others feel heard, appreciated, and valued.

Think strategically as to how to may offer to others support and a generous mindset and approach networking without feeling selfish.  And then be on your way to establishing strong, mutually beneficial connections and a relationship centered network.

At Builthive we often say our connections come back to one thing or place…Michigan. Like six degrees of Kevin Bacon, we are able to quickly find a connection to the Mitten in nearly any personal or professional engagement. What is your 6 Degrees? Find it and follow it to new relationships in your network.