Daring Networking: Seeking truthful objectives

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Written by Maitri Meyer, October 1, 2010

It’s dreadfully early on Thursday morning and 150 half awake, yet fashionable and smiling, Madisonians are crammed into the Roosevelt Reading Room at the Madison Club attempting to inject coffee into their mouths and not onto their suits. The words, “What do you do?” echo over the required gracious laughs.

Networking 101 teaches us to seek a genuine connection with new acquaintances by asking questions and seeking mutual benefits, and above all giving more than receiving.  So, why aren’t we instead asking, “Why are you here?”  Are we afraid we’ll get the truth?  Perhaps a performance evaluation is coming up and the 57-year-old accountant we’ve just met has been challenged to “network more.”  Will he actually share that he is five events short on his quarterly tally? Or do we not ask for fear of selfishly realizing we just wasted 10 minutes, not with a future client, but with (yet another) “professional in transition.”

If the tables were turned, what would you say if someone asked (in your morning fog or evening exhaustion), “Why are you here?”  Sales 101 teaches us to never pick up the phone or meet anyone without a clear purpose.  Aren’t many networking happy hours just big sales rep orgies?  I’m certain everyone in the room has a SMART goal in their left pocket upon entering the Brink, right?  I dare each of us to change our WIIFM-goal mindset to a service-goal mindset.

For example, instead of a typical goal of “Meet six new people at the next meet- and-greet” how about “Pull the SMART goal out of four new acquaintances’ pockets and do everything possible to assist those new contacts in achieving that goal”?   Who knows, you may match that overwhelmed employer with their next emerging leader or play matchmaker to a couple that will someday celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary!

Visit Maitri’s newest business venture, Actually DONE to find out what her objectives are!

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  1. #1 by Trevor Nagle on October 6, 2010 - 12:33 am

    Great points here, Maitri! Networking (successful networking, anyway) needs to be far more than simply attempting to get some type of short-term benefit for yourself. Your service-goal mindset is precisely what helps to transform networking from a singularly self-centered activity to a community benefit effort. What comes around, goes around….albeit sometimes in ways one can’t anticipate! I look forward to reading more blog entries!

  2. #2 by Nataraj Hauser on October 7, 2010 - 2:22 pm

    Interesting points, Maitri. I seldom attend organized meet-n-greet events but actively network much of the time. In any networking session I of course am hoping for a net win for myself; a new client or someone who knows someone who may be a prospective client. *And* I am also considering the person with whom I am speaking: What do they want or need? Is it something I can assist with or point them in a useful direction or to a possible client/service provider for their need? The returns on such investment are not always immediate, but over time I guarantee that they pay off. As the old saw goes, that unemployed “loser” you just dissed at that networking event just might be your next boss.

    Finally, my “30-second commercial” about myself is pretty well polished by now, and I’m comfortable speaking positively about what I can – and cannot – do. Somewhere in the range of 90% of my clients come to me as a direct result of a conversation I had with that person. Then when their need for my services come up, they remember me in a positive light, and call.

    Good luck with the blog. I added a bookmark to it.

  3. #3 by Paul Zukowski on October 7, 2010 - 9:07 pm

    Welcome to the blogosphere! I’m not really into networking anymore (back to inhouse marketing), and was usually a reporter of some kind when I did go to meet&greets. Sometimes I wore a “MEDIA” badge to let people know, but the high-tech entreprenurial crowd usually craved media attention, so it wasn’t a turnoff.

    Anyway, getting out in public is important when you work alone. I recommend it.

  4. #4 by Maitri on October 7, 2010 - 9:14 pm

    @Nataraj Here’s to “losers” becoming future bosses and to us having the grace and wisdom to treat everyone like a future boss and being kind enough to give everyone a hand when they need it most! Maitri

    PS Did a single mom of two kids just add something called “blogging” to my already too long To Do list?!

  5. #5 by susiejennings on January 6, 2011 - 5:31 pm

    Maitri,

    Even though this was written a couple of months ago, you have some good points. after coming from a chamber meeting this morning, it makes me rethink how I might approach people.

    It was a pleasure meeting you.

    • #6 by maitrimeyer on January 6, 2011 - 5:40 pm

      @ Susie, Please meeting you as well. We all learn over time the most effective way to connect with others. What works for one personality does not work for others. Thus there are no magic word tracks, BUT you are wise to self-reflect and always seek to improve!

      Smiles, Maitri

  6. #7 by Denyse Rattan Diem on May 4, 2011 - 5:57 pm

    Maitri,
    I cannot agree with you more. If you strive to serve first, the rest falls into place. I receive the most satisfaction from connecting folks who really should know each other and end up working together.

    Thanks for your article. All success to you with your blog – no luck needed – you are prepared.

    Denyse Rattan Diem

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