When most of us hear the word, networking, we probably imagine some stereotype: a slightly artificial gathering of nervous and arrogant people, walking around pitching their product or service, and handing out their business cards to anyone with hands.
I’ve been to a number of these. They’re as uncomfortable as you would think.
As someone who genuinely enjoys meaningful conversation and interactions with others, I don’t appreciate being in a social setting where I feel forced to introduce myself and hear others introduce themselves. Call me selfish or snobby, but I prefer for these to happen organically.
The second I hear, “What’s your name? What do you do?”–in a way where it’s obvious it’s the hundredth time they’ve asked this…
It’s reminds me of those stupid signs they hold up to the audiences of Late Night talks shows telling them when to give “Applause.” Except at these events, someone walks around holding a sign saying “Meet People!”
It doesn’t have to be this way.
It is true that life is all about ‘who you know.’ But who you know is largely dependent on who you are and what you do. Austin Kleon
Every single person I know who is lovely, skilled, and who brings value to my life…I don’t have a relationship with that person because I said the right thing at a networking event. What brought us together was either chemistry, mutual value given, or an interest in the skills we each possess.
If you give 50 business cards away in a day, you might think playing the numbers game will tip the odds in your favor.
But this will certainly result in empty and shallow (i.e. meaningless) connections with people.
Whereas if you spend the day with just two people–but you spent hours with these folks, asking questions, telling stories, and providing ideas and help…you just landed two people who will not only remember your name, but will remember the day because of you.
Who you know is largely dependent on what skills you have and what value you can provide others. Business cards are not valuable. What you can do for others is valuable. So as you increase the amount of things you can do for others, you will increase the amount of amazing people in your network.