Stop networking and start connecting – Why and how

people networking

At Mindful Presenter the underlying sentiment that fuels our business and drives everyone who works here is our core belief and ethos that ‘Connecting is everything’; it’s on our website, business cards, and etched in hearts and minds too.

When we’re not helping businesses connect with their people we are helping speakers and presenters from all spheres to connect with their audiences. On the rare occasion when we are not helping others we make it our business to connect with the business world at every possible opportunity and the best way we’ve found to do that is through networking.

For many, networking is a term more dreaded than public speaking itself and I’ve met countless people who consider it a necessary evil; a bit like having to go to the dentist. Having been to many events over the years I can easily see why. Here’s what I’ve come across:

1. Its 2018 and yet some people are still selling their wares like Victorian peddlers.

I don’t know about you but even though I’m in the presentation and communication skills business I really don’t like selling and the only thing that I loathe more than selling is being sold to. My advice to anyone in business regardless of whether you are a start-up or multi-national is if you’re at a networking event of any kind don’t sell. It’s long been my experience that people buy people first so do yourselves and the poor souls at these events a huge favour and stop selling.

Having paid your membership fee or breakfast expense the very thought of not selling your company’s product or service may make you shudder, but please just stop it. Here’s why.

Networking is about connecting with people. It’s not about selling. If they get you then it’s more than likely that they will get your business, but make it about them first. Make a human connection, not a sales pitch. The best way I know to do that is to go along to a networking meeting with the sole intention of genuinely and sincerely taking an interest in those who are there. Of course be interested in what they sell but be more interested in them as a fellow human being first.

Ultimately your interest will be about how you can help each other as that’s why you went in the first place. Remember two things; we all like to help friends and we also love to help people we like.

So make some friends in the same way you would any other social environment and let your product or service speak for itself once they have gotten to know and trust you. If they like you they are far more likely to like what you do so by all means tell them what you do but please don’t try to sell it to them.

2. Don’t make assumptions or judge people – have respect and get to know them

I met a very interesting professional chap recently who was in a similar business to mine, helping people communicate more effectively. As we discussed the common issue we both experience and help people with, the fear and anxiety of public speaking, I was quite taken aback when he made the following statement. ‘People who are anxious about speaking in public don’t really have a fear of public speaking they just have low self-esteem’.

Whilst I’m sure that there will be an element of truth in that statement for some people, on the whole I couldn’t think of anything further from the truth for the majority of people it’s been my privilege to work with.

I have a fear of flying, it doesn’t stop me from flying but I really don’t like it.

That doesn’t mean I’m less intelligent than the next person, have low self-esteem, had a troubled childhood, a traumatic experience flying in the past or anything else for that matter; it just means I’m uncomfortable flying.

I have met very few people who don’t have some form of anxiety about speaking or presenting in public and most of them have very high or at least what one would regard as healthy self- esteem.

When you’re at a networking event don’t make judgments or assumptions about people you’ve just met, get to know them.

3. If you only have one minute, don’t take five!

At one particular networking event I went to recently we were all given one minute to present to the rest of the room who we were and why we were in attendance. For the most part many of the attendees respected the request and spoke for the one minute and a small handful stretched it to two.

One lady took it upon herself to speak for at least 5 minutes, although given the context it felt like she spoke for 20 minutes.

Please don’t do that either.  If you can’t tell a room full of people what you do and why you are in the room in the first place in just one minute perhaps you shouldn’t be in the room.

4. Don’t use a ‘get out of jail free’ statement

I’ve now lost track of the number of networking events I have been to where I have approached someone to introduce myself where I am 100% certain that I’ve never met them before in my life to be  instantly greeted with; ‘ I’m sure we have met before but I’m terribly sorry I’m not very good with names’.

Please don’t do that either, it’s a catch all that some people seem to say to everyone they meet and it’s not very endearing. Just say hello naturally, if you’ve met previously one of you will very soon remember. More importantly if you’re not really networking and taking a genuine interest in getting to really know people you are far more likely to remember them next time.

Let’s all stop networking and start connecting with each other; it’s much more fun and worthwhile in the end.

I really hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please feel free to share it through your preferred social media channels below and subscribe to our mailing list so you won’t miss any future posts.

If this article has inspired you to learn a little more about how effective your presentation skills are you may want to take a look at our presentation training and presentation coaching pages to see how we may be able to help you. You will also find a great deal of really helpful ‘free’ information in our Learning Centre.

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