If you want to network with others, there are at least two things needed. First and simplest of them is that it helps to go where there are people. Second, and probably the most important is that it helps to be genuinely interested in people. Dale Carnegie, one of the most influential people of the twentieth century when it came to winning friends and influencing others, once said, “
You can make more friends in two months by becoming really interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.
What kind of people do you want to network with?
Given the choice, would you rather network with people who care mostly about themselves or would you prefer to network with people who have a sincere interest in you? If you’re like most people, my guess is that it would be the later. I recently attended a networking social after work. The event was sponsored by a local professional organization and it promised to be a huge gathering of professionals from the surrounding area. When I got there one of the event’s organizers came up to me and welcomed me to the event (being welcomed by someone is always a great experience when attending a social gathering, whether you know them or not). This particular event was quite large indeed, with over 200 people gathering in this downtown hot spot all with the main purpose of meeting other professionals and entrepreneurs. The event was great! I met a large number of people from all different backgrounds. Each person had something to offer others and it never ceases to amaze me how much I continue to learn about people at events such as these. One person who I will remember unfortunately is a young lady who I met due to her standing next to someone I knew. The person I knew said hello to me. I said hi back and starting to ask him how he was and what he had been up to. After a brief sentence or two, my friend motioned over to the person standing next to him and I proceeded to introduce myself saying that it was a pleasure to meet her. But almost immediately she appeared to not care much about knowing who I was (not that I was selling anything or telling her anything about me other than introducing myself). She proceeded to speak with my friend and not give me much thought. My friend proceeded to speak with both her and me discussing a couple of recent events that had occurred locally. What was soon apparent, or so it seemed, was that this young lady did not care what I had to say with respect to what the topic of conversation was. The young lady needed to leave the event a few moments later, but before she did she proceeded to give my friend a warm professional handshake and a smile saying it was a pleasure meeting him. She then turned to me, raised her hand up to the side of her face and with a slight smile waived her fingers slightly at me without saying a word and proceeded to leave the event. Now I don’t let these scenarios effect my enjoyment of an event. I make it a point to choose to enjoy my time at social gatherings and help others enjoy their time if they wish to do so. At this particular event, I met a lot of great people and had a great time overall.
What’s the reason for me sharing this little story?
The reason is because, even though this young lady didn’t appear interested in knowing me, she left a not so good impression. If she was at the event to meet people and network, she failed with me because I have little choice than to remember the way she made me feel “as though I was not of any importance to her in that brief conversation.” How do you believe I should treat her if (and when) I run into her in the future? How would you be if you were me meeting her at future social or professional events? I’ll leave that up to you to think about how I would and should treat her. My message here is that why burn bridges and make enemies with people you don’t know. Granted we can’t please all of the people all of the time, but making bad impressions is not always the best way to network with others. As I’ve mentioned in other posts before, whether you intend to network with people or not, we are always networking! Do you have any networking advice or stories to share? What is your advice to people who want to network? There are many people (including myself) who would love to know! Cheers!