It is not an understatement to say that in professional services, networking is one of the most important parts of our job. Connections are critical, projects cannot be completed without people. There are lots of different ways to network and finding what works for you is essential. Recently, I connected with someone that defies conventional wisdom. He doesn’t care about first impressions, considers nearly all networking a waste of time and believes the key to networking is to stop networking.
What he realized is that people are not interested in networking conversation, they want real conversations and real relationships. And he’s right. It is the personal relationships that we create that enable you to stand out and remain top of mind.
So how do you make a conversation real? Start by overcoming the fake talk.
When networking you need some of fake talk. You can’t lead with the heavy stuff. But, the fake talk needs to stop early so the real conversations can begin. Real conversations create interest, build respect and get results. Be genuine and listen to the other person. Stay focused and don’t get too excited about your next thought. Being in the moment is key as it shows you are listening and engaged. Doing this, will allow the conversations to move from fake to real quickly and provide you with a quick way to know if there is a real opportunity.
So no, you cannot stop networking but you may want to consider how you are currently going about it. Understanding that it is much more important to build a quality network than a quantity one, should be you’re first step in how you network. Focused networking that develops real relationships will be much more meaningful than a large contact list and put you on a path for success.