Everyone in the world wants to connect with other people. We attend events and pay big money for this type of thing. We want to meet others that will help us in accomplishing our dreams. There's just one problem…
Most people are doing it all wrong.
Why our networking is all jacked up
“Connection” without action is forgettable.
You can't follow someone on Twitter or meet a person at a conference and instantly be connected to him. You have do the hard work of relationship.
The meeting is the introduction; the followup is the true connection.
Think about what a real friend does:
A real friend is there for you to bear your burdens. A real friend does more than stroke your ego or ask you for favors. A real friend tells the truth.
Having a “connection” with someone isn't the same as friendship. And your goal really should be to make more friends, not superficial connections.
Friendship is more than networking.
Friendship is mutual. It's sacrificial. It's hard. But it's worth it.
So what's the catch?
You have to do something
This is how true connection is made, how real influence is earned. Not by simply grabbing coffee or having a quick phone call, but by finding a common interest and doing work.
It doesn't have to be a paid gig (and in some cases shouldn't be), but it has to cost you something. It has to require more effort than your chewing of a scone or sipping of a beverage. (What? You don't like scones? Shame on you…)
This is the very best way to network: serve people.
Do a favor.
Go the extra mile.
Be a friend (even if it's not reciprocated).
Being generous with your time and resources will dismantle any suspicion the person may have had toward you. She'll let her guard and invite you into her life.
What's the point?
You want people to associate an action with your name when they see you pop up in their inbox or show up on their voice mail.
You don't want them to think: “Oh yeah, he ordered the arugula salad…”
You want them to remember: “Wow, he was that guy who did that tremendous favor for me without my asking for it. I wonder what he's up to?” (Besides, arugula… seriously? That stuff has no flavor.)
If you want to have more influence, you have to be willing to do this. You have to be willing to earn someone's attention.
Otherwise, you're just another entitled moocher, asking for a handout.
And we have enough of those in the world, thank-you-very-much.
So be different. Be remarkable. Be a friend.
What do you think is broken with modern networking? Have you tried this method of action-based networking? Share your thoughts in the comments.
*Photo credit: Tim Herrick (Creative Commons)