We've all been there.
You're at an event and get cornered by a narcissist.
You try to escape, but it's no use.
You're stuck in networking hell.
In life — and especially in business — your network is everything.
Author and former Yahoo director Tim Saunders says it this way:
“Your network is your net worth.”
One man that knows about networking is John Corcoran, an attorney, entrepreneur and founder of SmartBusinessRevolution.com.
By networking, he was 23 when he landed a job at the White House. He now shares with others how to build better relationships in business.
One of the best ways to grow your income is to grow your network; however, a lot of people get networking wrong. They are in it for just themselves instead of trying to help others. Here are five common mistakes.
1. Making It All About You (Don't Be That Narcissist)
Often when people think about networking events, their first thought is increasing their income or creating business opportunities for themselves. This approach backfires. Other people sense that selfish approach from a mile away and are less likely to be willing to build a relationship.
Jayson Gaignard, who founded a new invite-only conference for entrepreneurs in 2013 called Mastermind Talks, used this approach to entice people to attend his first event.
“I was a nobody. I had no brand” says Gaignard. He was careful to make sure the conference was not about him. “I didn't position myself as the expert. I'm simply the facilitator of the experience. I put brilliant people in the room, and I never position myself as the smartest person.”
2. Not Offering Value First
Imagine you have a bank account which has zero dollars in it. You can't withdraw from that account until you've made any deposits. Growing a network works the same way. You need to make deposits into the relationship bank account — in the form of offering value — before you can make any withdrawals.
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Many people get hung up on what they can offer of value, but in actuality that is less important. It can be something small like a restaurant tip, a recommendation, a resource or advice unrelated to your vocation.
3. Refusing to Play the Game
A lot of people get frustrated by negative associations with networking, so they decide that they're not going to engage. The only person that hurts is yourself. Society functions rules, just like our laws relating to crimes. On fundamental rule is that relationships dictate your ultimate success in life.
And therefore if you refuse to put effort and energy into building relationships with people who are aligned with your values and who can help you to get ahead in life, then you are cutting off your nose to spite your face.
4. Not Planning on Whom You Want to Build Relationships With
A lot of people think that they need to let their business relationships evolve organically because putting energy and thought into potential relationships would be too icky or scheming or opportunistic.
Well, I think it's fine to let personal relationships evolve organically, but when it comes to business, you should absolutely take some time to think through whom you want to build relationships with. This planning will save a ton of wasted money, time and energy, could help focus your efforts and even help develop a self-realization about what you really want with your career or your business.
5. Not Following Up
People acknowledge that they don't like going to networking events because they would rather be engaging in hobbies or spending time with their families. I feel the same way. I want to maximize the efficiency of the time I do spend building relationships.
I found in my own unscientific experiments that eight or nine times out of ten if I'm not the person to follow up with a person I'd met at an event then the other person will not follow up.
If you want to maximize your networking time and you don't follow up with the people you do meet, then you're just dooming yourself to get back on the networking hamster wheel again and again and again.
Of course not every relationship will be fruitful, but you never know. And the foundation is following up with people who you've met, not just once but consistently over time.
If your networking needs a tuneup, download Corcoran's free 52-page guide How to Increase Your Income Today by Building Relationships With Influencers, Even If You Hate Networking.