Oftentimes, when people think of career advancement, the concept of networking is surely somewhere at the the top of the priority list. During networking, people often make a deliberate attempt to connect with those they see can help them in their career or business or that they may want to work with in the future.
All in all, it can become process based on what someone else can do for the person networking, not the other way around. Some will make a competition of collecting business cards, finding out the credentials of those at an event and leveraging that information or approaching networking a way that puts emphasis on the person doing the networking, not the party they’re networking to.
This misunderstanding of the concept of networking can lead to a disconnect and sometimes no results, simply because it becomes a robotic monotony of exchanging information with no follow up or quality connecting.
Entrepreneur Jeff Archibald expands on this notion, exploring the misconception of what networking truly is, especially for those who loathe doing it. He says a great way to remedy an approach that may be faulty at best is to change one’s mindset from “What can you do for me?” to “How can I specifically add value to your needs?”
He writes for Brazen Careerist: Stop thinking of your local business events as “networking opportunities” and start thinking of them as opportunities to help people. Be a giver, not a taker. Change your mindset from a selfish one to an unselfish one. It’ll come back around, trust me.
If you can provide a benefit or helping hand to someone, they’ll remember that down the road when they actually need your services. For example, who do you think the marketing manager will call when they need design services? Designer A, who gave them his card and talked about all the skills he has, or Designer B, who asked the marketing manager about their business and then followed up with a helpful article/lead/Web application that may be of interest to them?
This is something that has worked for many successful leaders who have longstanding networks that they can tap into for years versus short-term connections that go nowhere.
“So stop aiming to generate business,” he adds. “Aim to understand and help people.”
This mindset of being a resource makes for dynamic networking that ensures you won’t have those awkward dreaded experiences at events and you can break the ice by simply doing whatever it is you do best, creating a reciprocity of value addition.