Networking Is Backwards
Posted by Trevor on 24 May 2012 | Post a Comment
Networking is a popular thing in American culture and we are often encouraged to take advantage of networking parties. The goal is to meet people who can somehow benefit you, whether it is now or in a year’s time.
A whole network of networking experts has developed in recent years, each willing to tell you how best to gain advantage in business by adapting your socializing skills in Asia or Europe. I’m sure it works for some – but you would never catch me at a networking event here or in any country. Despite the fact that I started in business with no family connections, no money, and no business contacts to assist me, I have never attended a networking event in my life. I even draw the line at cocktail parties. I dislike networking because I believe the concept goes against the laws of nature.
What bothers me most is that the starting point of networking involves considering what is in it for yourself. Many people go into these situations with a warrior-like mentality, looking to make as many new contacts as possible – contacts they believe will be able to solve their problems for them at some point down the road. Business simply does not work that way.
If you started a company with the thought process of what is in it for you, chances are your company would not last long. Customers and clients can read you. They care about what is in it for them, not you. They have needs and your duty as a company or entrepreneur is to understand and then satisfy them.
The concept of networking is the opposite of finding ways to satisfy others. Your attendance is purely an attempt to get satisfaction for yourself. It’s backwards. Networking actually works against you because it is pushing instead of pulling. The “warriors” are pushing their problems onto others when they should be pulling solutions toward themselves.
I would make a bet with anyone about to attend a networking event. I would tell them to attend two similar events. In the first go with their usual desire to get something out of it, a contact, a referral or whatever they think they need to resolve their issue. In the second event go purely with the intention of being of service to the other people in attendance. Look for ways to advise, to encourage, and to assist. My bet is that the benefits that come to that person in the second situation would far outweigh the first.
Having a cocktail at the Chamber of Commerce mixer won’t help you resolve the issues with your company. Better to perform the three simple steps – and you will find your phone ringing and someone saying, “Hey, we have a meeting tomorrow, would you mind coming out and helping us?”
That’s how business works in reality. It is all just energy flowing in a certain direction. The secret to success is to flow with the energy rather than push against it and for me, networking is like swimming against the current.