I always looked at networking as a dirty word. From my first business mixer/conference, this was the dude I never wanted to become. You know him or her – you probably still have their business card, but have no idea who they are and why you even have their card. Go on – open your top desk drawer, or the drawer by your night stand – and then go for the card right at the bottom and back of it. There they are!!!
Yeah – networking. Well, there are plenty of those people still out there. But more and more, people have begun to do networking the right way. I am a huge fan of Keith Ferrazzi’s book “Never Eat Alone,” which demonstrates the power of networking correctly. For simplicity-sake, here are a few very basic rules to networking the right way:
1. If you are looking to help someone with a problem before taking their business card – then you are networking the right way.
2. If the people in your contact database answer your phone calls/emails right away – you are networking the right way. This means you are focused on building and maintaining relationships – a sure sign you are networking the right way.
3. Don’t keep score. If you are effectively handling numbers 1 and 2, there will never be a need to keep score…and you will be networking the right way.
Frankly, I love to be that guy. You know – the one everyone calls with the age-old question: Hey, Dan, do you happen to know someone who…?”
And when you do know that “someone,” you are ultimately able to help out a family-member, a friend, a colleague or acquaintance solve a problem. That problem could be simple – like the need for a new dentist; or it could be more profound – I am looking for a job, do you know someone at XYZ Inc.?
Handle your networking in this way, you and your business card, will never end up at the bottom of any drawer.
This post originally appeared in Mueller Musings on December 29, 2011.