I remember trying to learn how to network. There was very little available and the Internet was not the source of information it is today. I was a sales person and was looking for a replacement for cold calling. I hated cold calling. In the pursuit of becoming an excellent networker, I tried all of the techniques I could learn but they never seemed to unlock the secrets of real networking. So for bettor or worse, I developed my own system. Now it is almost 20 years since attending my first networking function and business networking is one of my favorite business activities. My business depends on it.
However, when I ask people about business networking, most people cringe.
They tell me that it is something for the gregarious. It is for those that have outgoing personalities. It is for the chatty. It is difficult for the shy, the introverted, engineers, technical people, scientists, it is not for the “serious” professions, it is not for the "quiet people", it is more useful for sales and commercial people. One person told me that networking makes her queasy. “I’m not the sort of person that pushes myself forward. I only network when I have to and I don’t really get a lot of benefit from it,” she said.
When I network, I apply the following steps in equal portions:
- Clear strategy and goals,
- Make myself more visible,
- Meet new people, and
- Keep in touch with interesting and relevant contacts.
Meeting people is a part of the recipe, but only one part.
When asked about business networking, everyone immediately wants to talk about step 3: meeting new people. I know what they don’t know: they are asking how to be better at meeting people, not better at networking. Networking is finding people that you need to meet and knowing why you want to meet them, becoming someone others want to meet, meeting people, and what you do with the contacts going afterwards.
Networking is something that all business people need to do well and is a skill that most people do poorly. Why is that? On the Internet and in the bookstores there is a lot of information on business networking - lots and lots of information available, and clubs, and professional associations, and networking events, and blogs, and tips, etc. So, why are so many people having difficulty with business networking?
To find the answer, I read many networking books (many very well written and informative) and read hundreds of articles on networking. I asked myself if I could learn to network the way I do from the information available. The honest answer is no. I could learn how to meet people, this is true, and learn something about networking - some people offer excellent advice and clearly understand about networking, but I do not believe that I would network the way that I do now and with the same results. Not in the instinctive, second-nature way that makes networking fulfill its promise.
Why is that? Because you need more information about the parts of networking that proceed and follow meeting people. You need different information and someone to put it all together into a system. Because you need to learn a variety of skills first-hand from different types of networkers to understand why they do certain things and what benefits they gain. Because you need to know what most people do and how good networkers differ from the average. Because you are too busy to read hundreds of articles. Because you need to have equal parts of Strategy, Visibility Planning, Meeting People, and Network Building to get the most from business networking. You need a system that teaches you what to do. You need a Networking Workshop.
It is time to change my role from student to teacher and put “pen-to-paper” (or rather, fingers-to-keyboard) to create The Networking Workshop. A systematic approach to business networking.
The Networking Workshop
Throughout The Networking Workshop, you will learn the experiences of five real people – different personalities with different networking needs – and discover their networking techniques in detail. Different techniques and different perspectives. It is important that you have a resource to learn the different techniques that people use and to understand why they do what they do. And you will learn my experience of what “Most People” do in the same situations.
Currently The Networking Workshop is planned to be released in four eBooks:
- Strategy and Goals
- Increasing Visibility
- Meeting People
- Network Building
Together, the four books will detail the skills of some of the best networkers that I know and provide you with strategies and techniques to use in different situations.
Book 3 will be published first!
Book 3 is being written first to satisfy the demand of “how to Meet People” and it is set at an industry networking function. Together, we can work through the different aspects of a networking event.
Meeting People will discuss:
- Creating a game plan: Strategy, Preparation, Goals, and Tactics
- How to meet people
- Starting and ending a conversation
- Using business cards
- Working the room
- How to book the next meeting
How can you help?
I am looking for people who are interested in reviewing Meeting People and providing feedback – both positive and negative. The target market is business people that are finding business networking challenging. Meeting People is aimed at around 20,000-25,000 words, and I hope to have the first part finished later this week. I would like to receive feedback on the first ~5,000 words in the next two weeks. If all goes according to plan, a full version will be completed by the end of June. This is an ambitious timeframe, but I really want to bring the book to market as soon as possible.
Although it is a bit scary sending chapters of a book out into the world to be criticized, a bit like letting your children out of your sight for the first time, feedback is essential to producing a book that answers your needs. If you would are interested in providing feedback and constructive comments, please send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I promise that I will keep your contact details in strictest confidence.
For those who assist, I will give you an electric copy of Meeting People when it is finished with an acknowledgement of your contribution.
Kind regards and I hope to hear from you soon!