I did an internet search on the word “business networking” the other day. Whatever time I have left on this good earth is wholly insufficient to research the information made available by that investigation. Wikipedia™ even had an article on the subject.
There are networking clubs, institutions, and gatherings of all sorts to facilitate business people of all walks of life in their daily quest to meet people and sell them stuff (or, as they will say, “Build strategic relationships”). Because so many people apparently don’t know how to network, there are speakers, books, articles, and seminars ad infinitum, all designed and written to help the business people of the world in their never ending quest to meet people. There are the five R’s of relationship, the “X” procedure of reciprocity, and the one elevator speech that, if properly written, will wow all who hear it and create in the audience an immediate desire to do business with the speaker. Yes, the “network industry” is big business.
It’s also hogwash.
Yes, I said it and I’ll bet there are a few people that would like to see me arrested for doing so. Take all the methods, procedures, and positive thinking malarkey out of the equation and what do you wind up with? People meeting people with the intent of doing and/or referring business. That’s really all there is to it, folks. There are only a couple of things you need to know and do to be a successful networker. Over the next few Mondays, I will present one idea at a time for your consideration. You may or may not agree with me and some of you may wish to see me burned at the stake for heresy. The fact remains, though, that you and I have been networking since birth. The target market may change along the way and the elevator speech is certainly different depending on one’s age. It is all essentially the same process.
I could give examples of networking at each stage of life and maybe I will at some point. For the purpose of this article, let us save to say that there are certain behaviors and methods to be used in networking that cannot be violated regardless of age or station in life. They range from the absolutely most basic of all things (like showing up) to the simpler things. None of it is complicated unless one chooses it to be so. I recently met someone who claimed to be a “certified networker.” I don’t know what that is. Maybe he went to a school. I don’t know and I was kind of afraid to ask. Anyway…
Ok, enough. Next Monday, I will present the first and most important rule of networking. Do try to get some sleep between now and then. I will also see if my old friend Augie has anything to add to the conversation.