As a business person, I’m sure you’ve heard this before: network, network, network. You have probably also heard others (if not yourself) say, “I’d rather have a root canal” [this is a direct quote—my apologies to the many excellent dentists out there] or some similar not-to-be-desired experience. What can you do to make the networking experience better?
Go with the expectation of giving something. Mention techniques that save time or tools that save money. Speak highly of another person at the gathering. Put someone else at ease with thoughtful questions. Share your skills or wisdom to address a problem.
Unless you are the guest speaker, listen and talk in equal parts. Show an interest in others. If they don’t reciprocate, be thankful for this glimpse at their people skills before you entered into a business relationship or made a deal for whatever they are promoting in their monologue.
Realize people like to deal with those they know and trust but it takes time to build relationships. Who wouldn’t like networking if all one had to do was give a sales pitch and seal the deal? Instead, you are making an investment in people’s lives. This may (or may not) pay dividends down the road in lasting friendships, increased business, or opportunities for personal growth.
What do you do to make networking a positive experience for others?