In business, it’s often not what you know, but who you know. And it’s not just who you know, but how strong the connection and relationships you have with certain people are. For example, if you need advice or an opinion, you would most likely write to or call someone whose opinion you trust.
Doing that is one case of networking. Yet, networking often gets a bad reputation and plenty of people think of it as something to dread or something that won’t really help them grow their businesses or advance in their careers. In large part, the negative view of networking stems from a few common misconceptions about what it is and what it involves. Adjusting your viewpoint on networking can help you forge new connections and move your business forward.
Misconception 1: If You’re Not a Natural Extrovert, Networking is Impossible
When most people hear the word “networking,” they picture wine and cheese filled after work events during which the naturally outgoing all congregate in the center of the room while the naturally shy or introverted hang around the edges, clinging to the snack table for dear life.
While your run-of-the-mill networking event does cater to the skill sets of extroverts, those events aren’t the only way to network and build connections with others. If you are naturally shy or don’t do well in large group settings, it’s better to change your approach to networking. Instead of going to big events, reach out to people you are interested in getting to know individually and ask them to meet up for a one-on-one conversation.
Misconception 2: It’s a Waste of Time
Like the first misconception, the belief that networking is a waste of time probably comes from the fact that people aren’t likely to form lasting connections when they go to big networking events. Handing your business card to a group of people and never following up isn’t going to lead to any significant relationships.
Instead, it helps to be proactive. If you do attend networking events, take the time to follow up with the people you thought were interesting or who you’d like to learn more about afterward. Send a friendly email, reintroducing yourself, saying that it was nice to meet them, and complimenting something about them. You can ask to meet them again if you’d like to further the relationship.
Misconception 3: It’s Selfish to Network
It’s not selfish to network and to meet new business connections. It is selfish to approach networking with a “me first” mindset. While you do want to think about how building relationships will help your business, it’s also important to think about how other businesses or individuals can benefit from getting to know you and what you have to offer. For example, you might be able to provide a company with a way to reduce expenses or with a time-saving device.
When you go into any networking event, large or small, always ask yourself what you can do to help others, not what they can do to help you.
Misconception 4: Networking Creates Fake Relationships
Sometimes, you have to reach to find and connect with people who are outside of your usual business circle. Making the effort to connect with people you wouldn’t ordinarily meet doesn’t mean that the relationships you build with them are fake or false. It simply means that you had to put a bit more effort into forming those relationships than you would have if you had stuck with your usual circle.
One way to connect with people who aren’t in your usual circle or who might have something to offer you (or you them) is to network and to find ways of building your network with deliberation. That can mean going out of your way to attend events that you would ordinarily avoid or it might mean reaching out to someone you don’t know but would like to and asking them their opinion on a subject.
Networking can help you find a solution to a problem you’re having and can help you build long-lasting connections with others by helping them solve their own problems. To learn more about the value of maintaining relationships in business, contact New Direction Capital today.