The one thing we cannot ever get back is time. Imagine if you could maximize your time, effectively multiplying your resources—what would be possible? There is a very simple and effective way to do this and although you may say, I already do it, I am asserting you are not getting the maximum value out of it that you could.

What am I talking about?

Networking; both in person and online. Your access to a huge return on investment of your time, talent, money and resources is through other people. It takes intentionality. It is not a casual, passive activity. I will give you some tips to support you in having this business building, career advancing activity payoff, as we look at all the benefits of networking.

This is not an exhaustive list, but some of the payoffs of intentionality in networking are:

  1. Revenue. If you are in business where you influence revenue, either as a business owner or your position in your company, the people you network with can be either customers, decision maker to purchase your product or service OR a conduit to someone who can purchase your product or service.
    • Tip: Decide before you go to a networking opportunity what your intention is, who you want to meet, what you will leave with having accomplished. Put your attention where your intention is.
    • Tip: Be a great listener. The person in front of you may not be able to purchase from you, and when you listen, you may find someone they can introduce you to or otherwise support you. Inherently, people like to be helpful and sometimes you can direct them to what you need.
    • Tip: Be receptive to what others need as well. Be FOR others success. We are all interdependent. If you are not the other person’s client/prospect, perhaps you can help them.
  2. Relationships: You never know who you are going to meet and even when they aren’t going to be a prospect/source of forwarding your business today, they may in the future. Your network of relationships is a key to expanding business, being someone of service, providing referrals and as such, your reputation is important.
    • Tip: Be friendly, be open. Continue to be intentional AND be willing to spend time getting to know people and creating relationships which may provide value at some point in the future. Word of mouth is important marketing and if you develop a reputation as a contributor and a resource that will go along way to referrals, potentially.
    • BIG TIP: Getting past fear:
      1. First, you need to understand that when you go into a situation that is unfamiliar, oftentimes, your brain experiences fear. Fear of what? Fear of being rejected, fear of looking stupid, fear of not being liked, fear of being found out that you really are not good enough. This is going on for most of us at some level. When that happens, your brain is flooded with a neurochemical cocktail- I call it a bad margarita. These neurochemicals like epinephrine and cortisol are responsible for the fight, flight, freeze or appease others phenomenon and worse, slow down our brain’s ability to utilize the executive functions where creativity, empathy and higher order thinking lie. Hard to be a great networker when your brain is not on 100%!
      2. What can you do to calm your brain down and maximize your networking opportunity? The ‘antidote’ to this neurochemical cocktail is to cause your brain to give you good neurochemicals to shift the balance and help you engage the higher order processes of your brain. You do this simply- by connecting with another person. When you look into another person’s eyes, your brain starts giving you good chemicals/a good margarita- of oxytocin and dopamine (through what are called mirror neurons) which make you feel good, feel as if you belong and allow your brain to connect to executive thinking, creativity and empathy. Want to maximize that? Ask them to talk about themselves and then really listen and engage by asking questions, as this will deepen your connection feeding your brain more good chemicals… and will have the other person feel great too! Then you can share about yourself and what your do.
    • TIP: Before you go into a networking event. I recommend a simple Jedi mind trick: Ask yourself “What is the worst thing that could happen?” (to get this conscious). Then ask yourself “If that happens, can I survive?” It may sound silly, but it works as it is breaking the automatic reaction of the brain and connects you back to reality. All the fear lies deep in your brain from past incidences and keeps you from being in this opportunity.
  3. Be open to opportunities you had not considered.
    • TIP: If you stay open you can discover other opportunities which could include speaking on a panel, attending or sponsoring a fundraiser, or something else unexpected.
  4. Be of service: Everyone is there to ‘get’ something, and if you can be available to serve them in some way, it will support what you are up to, long-term.
    • TIP: Ask: Tell me about you and what you are up to? Ask: What can I do for you? or What do you need? Ask: What challenges are you facing?
      • And then see who you know that could help them, refer them when appropriate.
    • Be a positive influence: It is easy to fall into the trap of commiserating and complaining. We all do it. However, when you are out networking- in person or online, avoid it.
      • TIP: Acknowledge and appreciate people, validate experiences and help people find solutions or point them in a direction where they might get support.

Being a good networker is one of the most valuable skills you can develop to get a great return on your investment of time, talent and resources. The same things hold true in person as online. I won’t go into social media networking at this time- that will be another blog, and the principles hold true no matter what.

I invite you to be intentional, be proactive and elevate your results through networking!