Do you sometimes struggle with networking? If you do, it turns out you’re not alone. Gallup surveyed college graduates who earned their degrees between 2010 and 2019 and nearly half said they wished they had received further training on networking.
At its core, networking is about building strong relationships. Networking is about people. Our ability to network successfully is based on trust and how well we connect with others through sharing stories and experiences.
Cultivating a great network is more about building purposeful and meaningful relationships than it is about quantity of relationships. In other words, you don’t need to know that many people to have an intensely powerful network.
Nurturing your network should be a daily priority. We are social beings. We are made for connection. Over reliance on technology often leads us to overlook this important part of our human nature.
The secret to having strong connections with others is having a strong connection with ourselves. It’s the connection to ourselves that allows us to meet the deep human desire to be understood in others, because to understand another we must first understand ourselves.
Being willing and able to understand a person’s perspective, decisions, and motives for their actions establishes that you care and value them. Listening plays a key role in this process. To be a good listener you have to be interested and curious about the world around you and the people in it. This class of listening requires an open mind. Specifically, being open to different points of view.
This is where the ego can be an enemy of building strong relationships. When we value being right over being in right relationship, we sever connection with others and are left in solitary relationship with ourselves. It’s okay to agree to disagree, just do it respectfully.
Showing disrespect is cheap and easy. It takes courage and character to be understanding and forgive others for their mistakes and shortcomings.
Simple acts of kinds go a long way to bridge the gap between what we know and wish we knew about networking. The warmth of a smile is felt within sight and heard for miles. A simple “thank you” communicates value and appreciation. A sincere apology makes amends and acknowledges an offense or failure.
By shifting our behavior, ever so slightly, toward ourselves and others, we create the right environment for richer, more meaningful relationships and further lasting impact when it come to the exchange of information and development of personal and professional relationships.
Ask me anything about networking in the comments below. I’ll choose a question to respond to in an upcoming Lead U video. It could be your question!