Jan 22 2013
There can be no doubt that there has never been a more critical time to add networking skills to our “armoury” of essential traits if we wish to be successful in any kind of commercial role. With this in mind, allow me to share some of the results of my experiences – think of it as advice from a “compulsive” networker!
Before you even begin to look at engaging seriously in lots of networking effort, it is useful to look at your own temperament or disposition. This is the individual’s internal desire to network and to find value and enjoyment from the whole process of building relationships.
For some people this will be an almost irrelevant issue to debate. Their motivation to want to talk to people regularly and to network is naturally high. Talking to strangers in supermarket queues, at bus/train stops or even in the elevators is characteristic of such people.
However, even if you really enjoy talking to people, it is a proven fact that most of us are not highly confident and highly motivated networkers. In fact, statistics reveal that only one in ten people are actually comfortable in striking up a relationship with a complete stranger.
Unfortunately, this means that their own misgivings, fears and doubts potentially hinder the vast majority of people
Four Networking Types:
In practice, you can divide people who attempt to build networking relationships into four distinct types.
o The Loner (little or no networking)
o The Socializer
o The User
o The Relationship Builder or Networker
Although our aim is to consider the fourth of these in some detail as the role to which we can all aspire (if we are not already there), let’s briefly look at each of these types in turn.
• Likes to do most things by themselves (because they do it faster or better)
• Doesn’t want to bother or worry other people
• Feels that their knowledge and skills are often superior to most people
• Only asks for help as a last resort (and when it may be too late)
The Loner is an easily recognizable type, because there are times when we all believe that we will do better ourselves than if we ask others for help. The Loner will not usually want to bother anyone else, or necessarily see much point in doing so, believing that others will be slower and will set lower standards.
Unfortunately, the Loner attitude is a major obstacle to effective networking. We need to shift our thinking greatly in this area. We should be more willing to let others assist, and we should even ask for help more often
o Tries to make a friend of everyone they meet
o Tends to know people’s names and faces but not what they do
o Is not usually systematic or ordered about follow-up – contact is random
o May not listen too deeply and is quick to move on
Although the Socializer may have a wide circle of friends and contacts, he or she knows little of substance about personal skills and resources. As a result, Socializers do not often share their skills.
The Socializer is also a random networker, following little or no formal contact system.
o Is likely to collect business cards without really connecting with people
o Tries to make ‘sales’ or ‘pitches’ on the first encounter
o Talks and focuses on own agenda rather than together information
o Has superficial interactions
o Keeps score when giving favors
Unfortunately, people of this type do network widely, but in a way that creates little benefit for themselves or others. Even worse, this kind of networker tends to create a bad impression and therefore can give networking an image of being about selling, taking, bargaining and keeping score.
• Has a ‘giving’ disposition or abundance mentally
• Is generally happy to ask others for help or guidance
• Listens and learns about people carefully
• Is regularly on the look-out for useful information for which others can also benefit
• Has a well-ordered and organized networking system
This type of networker is what this article is all about – an individual who takes a long-term perspective on relationships with others and thinks more about what he or she can give or offer, than about the return.
This type is out there for others, or on call to offer help whenever it is needed. If they cannot help in person, they usually know someone else who can.
And Finally: Maintaining High Self-Esteem
Apart from the Builder, one factor connects the other three types in preventing them from networking more effectively. This is the issue of self-esteem.
The Loner believes in himself or herself, but not necessarily in others (especially relative strangers). The Socializer likes people but also very much wants to be liked by others (and therefore does not want to ask for favors). Finally, the User takes a relatively selfish view of “If I benefit or gain, I might reciprocate, otherwise I won’t.”
Of course, all of these types fear rejection, obligation, being too pushy or even looking weak. All of these fears or concerns about networking need to be lessened or overcome.
In a short post such as this, a topic as largely and potentially complicated as a person’s relative self-esteem cannot be covered at any level of detail. However, it is important to appreciate how low self-esteem can have a major impact on your networking efforts if it is not at least basically understood and addressed.
An individual with high self-esteem is likely to build their own confidence to want to network by having a positive, open and ‘can do’ attitude.
Conversely, an individual with low self-esteem is likely to lack confidence to start with. They will convince themselves (and others) that they have little that would be of interest to others in any network.
Be assured, networking is here to stay, and the meek will certainly not inherit the earth, but do proceed with the utmost caution – and with a plan (strategy)
There is a whole world of opportunity out there and it is waiting to meet you …
News: I always enjoy interviewing my good chum Dave Kurlan. Actually, it is never an interview, but rather an exchange and sharing of views, and we always have a much longer chat before I hit the “record” button – but we can’t share that with you. So last week we talked about the top ten reasons why sales are lost, and we posted it over at Top Sales World today – you can catch it HERE – but do be warned, I was a little rusty after my Christmas/New Year break.