Taking the Work out of Networking
By H.L. Hines
Let's focus on online networking
When you're just starting, online connections are a significant first step. Why? Because it's simple. All you need is an internet connection and a profile. Then your next step is just as easy. All you have to do is reach out. Introduce yourself, tell them what drew you to their profile, and then hit send. That's it. That's how it starts.
It's important to remember that online networking is less personal, so for some, it makes for an excellent starting point. If they respond, let the conversation evolve. If you like and comment on their posts, increasing their engagement stats, watch and see if they do the same. Pretty easy, right?
Once you've made a connection and you put in the time to build and establish trust, the chances of someone recommending you will increase. Always remember: personal recommendations are gold. This is the core of networking.
The three main concepts with networking:
1. Networking is not just about you. Yeah, I said it. Whether you're an author or an entrepreneur when we engage with somebody we hope to connect with, we have to realize that it's not just what that person can do for us, but also what we can do for them. Networking isn't about using someone else's connections to lift you. It's about making connections and lifting each other.
You have to know and understand what you bring to the table and what your partner will bring and start there. And to do this means that you have to self-evaluate. If you followed my monthly challenges, you know self-evaluation is a big thing. I make time for it every week, but we need to practice self-reflection every day. We are potentially wasting time and energy (the greatest resource we have) by neglecting this powerful tool.
2. We are sharing our partner's audience and expectations
Alert:: You have now found yourself outside your comfort zone. Be wary. Be mindful. But don't go changin'.
When we participate in networking events, we must realize that we are no longer engaging with only our target audience. Yes, your fans or customers are listening but the concepts and comments of your partner can affect your business and your brand. Be selective.
Make sure that the connections you're making are guiding you in the direction you want to go, leading always towards your dream future. Who and where would you like to be in ten, twenty years. Those are the people you want to be working towards.
But even the most polished personalities have found themselves in hot water because of a casual slip. Ideally, that means you are cross engaging. This is great because it allows you to open your demographic pool. However, it's important that you know what you're getting into which leads us to number three.
3. Preparation is key.
If you're doing a shared live event, you need to understand who your partner is, which means you have the opportunity to do a little background research. Anytime we network, we try to put our best foot forward. To build those connections, keep them working, and ideally have them make connections work when you're not around. You'll have to continue to show them that you're a worthy connection. Traditionally, we network with people already near our sphere of influence and work our way in or out (depending on your approach). The broader networking we do, the further out we branch, the further the reach, and of course the more imperative it is to maintain genuine sensitivity.
This one's a bonus.
4. Sometimes it's ok to admit you need help. This is something I struggle with to this day. I don't know if this holds true for you, but I've had plenty of experiences where I felt I was drowning. If I would have asked for help when I first realized I was in over my head, I know I would have saved myself a lot of trouble.
It's okay to put yourself in a position for someone to help you. That was a very circumventive way of asking for help (see, it's a problem), but I urge you to accept help graciously if someone offers.
If you move forward with these small tokens, you'll be able to line up events that will • Show your credentials and authority • Spread your name and brand • Grow your audience • Build connections that last, thus creating greater networking opportunities
Pro-tip Before going live always make sure your video, audio, and internet are working. Check your lighting and minimize your distractions before you go live.
Not all sparks create a fire. Sometimes for one reason or another, it just doesn't happen. But just because it doesn't work isn't a good enough excuse to not try again.
Again this is where some of the re-evaluations come into play. If you're hitting roadblock after roadblock in either making, scheduling, and/or growing connections, now might be when you have to assess if it was something you did (I know, it's a tough question that not everyone can ask themselves, but for your own sake, you have to) You have to be willing to acknowledge the possibility that something went wrong on your end and learn from it.
And as an exclusive from me to you, if you are still hesitant about how it works or how to do it and enjoy it, DM on Instagram. Remember, networking doesn't need to feel like work. It doesn't need to be a scary process. We got this.