by Josh Millar
What makes some people great networkers while others seem to struggle? They may be going to the same events, even meeting the same people, but one gets more positive results than the other. Often, the difference isn’t so much in what they’re doing but in what they’re thinking. Our mindsets about networking can significantly impact our success. So, which mindsets should you cultivate? Here are a few top recommendations:
What You Can Give, Not What You Can Get
Of course, networking has benefits for us. We think about greater visibility, connecting with more potential clients, increased referrals, and more opportunities sent our way. While these are all valuable benefits, they shouldn’t be your main focus when networking. Instead of thinking about what you can get, think about what you have to offer. You know that networking is important and beneficial, so you don’t need to focus on that. When you focus on what you’re able to give the other person, how you can add value for them, you can often create a stronger connection. Maybe you’re able to introduce them to someone or send a referral their way. Perhaps you simply follow up with some useful information. Whatever it is, this approach can set the tone for a great interaction.
There’s Always Something to Learn
Asking questions shows that you’re genuinely interested in what the other person has to say, and making your conversation partner feel valued is important. In addition to supporting a positive dynamic, this mindset will help you take in new information you otherwise may have missed out on. When you’re networking, it’s not just about meeting people, it’s also about learning. They may share a great book recommendation or tell you how they overcame a challenge you can relate to.
Valuable Connections Require Effort
The most valuable connections are the ones that are strengthened over time. Sure, it’s great to shake hands and connect on LinkedIn, but if the connection cools there, it’s unlikely much will come of it. On the other hand, if you send a follow-up after your initial meeting and get a second meeting on the calendar, you’ll be growing the relationship and building trust. From there, sending occasional check-ins and keeping the connection alive is key. Continue thinking about how you can add value for others so that you’re not just reaching out when you need a favor.
Network Strength Isn’t About Network Size
Sure, a large network can be a powerful tool. But as most of us know, the number of connections we have on LinkedIn or friends we have on Facebook isn’t necessarily representative of genuine relationships. If your network is smaller than you’d like, growing it is a great plan, but don’t rush the process just to arrive at some larger number. As I mentioned above, valuable connections require some effort, and it’s much better to build 10 relationships than it is to have 100 more connections you hardly know.
The way we think is reflected in our words and actions, and cultivating these strong mindsets can help us network more effectively. Do you have a networking mindset that has helped you succeed? I’d love to hear your thoughts.