jfdi: Making Networking Contemporary

Published: Monday 14th January 2013

Studies show that over 40% of adults feel nervous about meeting new people. One survey showed that around 75% of people feel uncomfortable at business and social events. It is not surprising then that networking is up there as one of the most hated things we have to do in New Business, along with cold calling and public speaking.  It can feel uncomfortable and there is something about it that even feels a little slimy.

Perhaps we need to reframe our view of networking? If we see it as calculated and wanting something for nothing then it is hideous, as it is intrinsically against human nature to ask for something out of the blue.  However in Stephen Covey’s “The 7 habits of Highly Effective People” (arguably one of the best business books ever written) he talks about the Law of Reciprocity. Simply stated, Covey was saying that when someone gives you something, you feel an obligation to give back. Using the metaphor of a financial bank account, Covey described the process as an “emotional bank account” and the corresponding credit-withdrawal process in all relationships at work. Just like a financial bank account, you must make deposits before you can make withdrawals. So, if you turn networking on its head and view it as an opportunity to give, rather than receive, you will be creating “credit on your account” and building relationships that will eventually bring you benefits.  Plus, even better, viewing networking as an opportunity to give rather than take is much easier for us to stomach and consequently much less scary and stressful.

In addition to reframing your thinking in this way, jfdi® also suggests considering the following:

  • The strategic and intelligent way to consider networking is to build a network of your own, which then becomes your New Business pipeline.
  • Cold calling and 80’s hardcore selling, along with “black books” are now old fashioned and outdated concepts.
  • It is a connected, value added and permission based world.
  • If you are to hit your business targets, to find the customers you need to create the business you want it to become, you need to define your ideal clients and then work the numbers.
  • Find your list of 50-200 identified people you want to network with, rather than randomly going to “networking events”.
  • Construct your network based on trust, diversity and brokerage.
  • Practice active listening as the key to influencing.
  • Change your thinking from “how can I become incredibly successful?” to “how do I make my clients and prospects successful?” and this will automatically make you successful.

If you’d like to learn more about a more positive approach to networking, Camilla Honey and Mark Clark will be presenting on this subject at our next Early Worm Club event on 8th November.