Recently, a valued friend who is advising me on how to place the content of my networking seminar into an online seminar package, made the point to me that I needed to do a better job of breaking down how to teach a person who does not like being around people into a master networker.
Since then I have thought long and hard about how to respond to such a scenario. I think, to be fair, he was trying to challenge me to remember that not everyone is “like me.” “Like me,” being extroverted and socially engaged. I will admit that even though I know that 20 years ago I was a shy child who was not looked upon as a “popular” or exceptionally “outgoing,” person, it can be easy to perceive that I have always thrived around people. It simply is not the case.
Something I continually state to people is that I was pretty much forced into being an effective networker. When I lost my second job post college, the only opportunity I could find was in fully commissioned sales. It was daunting to say the least. But I promise when each interaction you have can make or break you making rent, you quickly learn to use all the tools at your disposal to make sure you hit your sales goals.
What I found exceptional about learning the particular sales process I learned, was that it focused on three key ingredients that I think everyone can relate to:
1) Goal Setting
2) Relationship Building
Funnily enough, those seem to be pretty good ingredients for successful networking don’t you think? And more than that, they are good ingredients for pretty much any endeavor that requires human interaction.
That said, I think the most important of these ingredients is ATTITUDE. Regardless of how many tips and trick for networking that one teaches you, the only person preventing from you having a “can do”attitude about effectively networking, is, you. And this brings me back to the point that my friend made to me. Extroversion, sociability, outgoingness…these three terms we use to describe behavior that a successful networker demonstrates on the outside. But who knows what they are thinking on the inside? Do they really like shaking hands with everyone? Does that person have a a lot of networking experience?
The person sitting in a corner at a networking event, or sitting at home and not attempting networking, or going to an event and slipping out five minutes later…this is the person who does not have the right attitude. You have to be willing to work a system to have any success. I learned a system in sales that allowed me to put money in my pocket, and the most important ingredient in making that happen was having an attitude that said, “I can do it.” The good news is, I was that guy in the corner once before and I know that once you tell yourself you can work a system, you’ll be just as successful.