50 Shades of Networking: Ditch the Whips

Lots of people have read 50 Shades of Grey and eve if you didn’t crack open the book you probably know the storyline. A very wealthy young man with a strong predilection for dominant and submissive behavior has a relationship with a beautiful young woman. Some amount of whips, ties, feathers and blindfolds are included in their “play.” And yes it all ends rather nicely at the end of the third book. (Can you believe that the author was able to take this thin wisp of a story and fill three entire books!)

But I digress.

Networking is also a contact game and if it is played correctly whips, chains and other tools favored by those playing the role of the dominant are not required. (Oh but just try to picture if you will a networking event where people are chained up or being flogged!)

Here are some top tips so that you don’t have to go out and buy those chains:

Be real.

Too many people these days have a networking persona where they gush and kvell (as my Jewish grandmother would say) over every introduction and handshake. Sure I’m glad to meet you too but we’re not going to be BFFs until we get to know each other better and have the opportunity to establish mutual credibility and trust.

Be generous.

One of the basic tenets of networking is that you have to be generous. Notice that I didn’t say givers get or you have to give to receive or anything like that. I honestly believe that you can give and not receive but that’s not the point. Make proactive introductions, don’t keep a scorecard and if it comes back to you that’s terrific. If you find that you are giving lots of introductions but getting none in return then it is time to carefully assess the situation and perhaps consider replacing some of your networking “circle.”

Be out there.

No one is going to find you if you are holed up in your office or at home. Develop a networking schedule and register for as many networking events and meetings as you have the time to attend but do your homework before selecting the groups or events. With a little due diligence you should be able to identify the activities that make the most sense for you and your business.

Follow-up and follow through.

Since we’re dispensing with the 50 Shades method of networking and are trying to be successful without those nasty ties and chains, you’ll need to create a touch point management system that will keep you on the grid of all of your contacts and connections. Add value to the relationship even before anything of much substance has evolved and use the three I’s (invitations, introductions and information) to stay visible.

Be patient.

Networking success doesn’t happen overnight and for many types of business it can take months or even years to see results. Stick with it because you are planting the seeds for future success. Dropping out of groups and deciding that something isn’t working might be valid but be certain to examine how much time and effort you have put into it before you pull the plug.

Have fun

Networking takes time and energy so if you’re not having fun it will probably wear you down. Ask yourself why your networking isn’t enjoyable and then take the necessary steps to make it so. Should you look into different groups? Attend different events? Change your schedule and attend meetings at a time of day when you have more energy? Look at all of the variables and see what you can change so that you enjoy your networking activities.

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