Networking By Any Other Name. . .
Networking is nothing more than making friends and developing substantive relationships designed to be mutually beneficial.
By any other name, we’d call it getting acquainted or something like getting to know the new couple in our neighborhood by simply knocking on the door and introducing ourselves.
We’ve made business networking an over-sized ogre that haunts those of us who sweat at the thought of building any kind of relationship.
Yet we network every day – almost all day. We build relationships without even giving a second thought. We go to the grocery store and chit chat with the woman checking out our order, developing a relationship-of-sorts. We lightheartedly converse with the pharmacy tech while picking up prescriptions at the neighborhood drugstore.
I bet we would rarely call the above ‘networking‘. Yet it is. And it will lead to business growth in ways we would never think possible.
The reason we fail to recognize it as networking is because we separate relationship-building from business networking. In fact, just chit-chatting – something women do naturally, is one of the finest ways to build comfortable relationships with folks we don’t yet know. Or know personally.
I Hate Sales!
Near the end of my 6 plus years tenure as a hospital social service director; I shared with one of our volunteers that I hated sales. The thought of selling anything made me nauseous.
“But, Linda, you do it all the time and are so very good at it”, she replied!
I was shocked. As a helping professional who was often called to intervene in tragic moments of stranger’s lives, could not fathom how that was anything remotely related to sales! How could my having to tell family a loved one would have to go to the nursing home be the same as convincing someone to buy the latest widget. Yet it was those experiences the volunteer called sales.
“You have to sell yourself and in many cases, do it very quickly!” Imagine, life dressed up as tragedy being akin to life dressed up as sales?!
She was right. I had to sell others that I was someone they could trust, who understood and cared. Although they might never have met me before; I had to let them know I was someone safe who would listen and do everything possible to resolve a challenge they never expected to confront. My “product” was me and the service I had to offer. And yes, over the years, I got very good at “sales”!
It’s All In Perception!
Life is about perception. Each of us sees things a bit differently because we process them through our personal filters. How we perceive others and what we experience in life is colored by past relationships with parents, siblings, relatives near and far, friends, teachers. . . everyone we encounter as we grow and mature.
The same is true when we enter the business world. If I fail to perceive business networking as the simple process of making friends and coming to know each other well; then the thought of business networking may make beads of sweat on my brow. Especially if I’m a business woman a bit on the shy side! (And I am one of those to be sure!).
Same is true if I fail to see what I do as “sales” when I must “sell” myself as an important aspect of my professional role. My perception of the words business networking and sales is limited by my life experiences. And reaction to them.
What’s That Have To Do With Anything?
Everything. How I perceive what it takes to grow a successful business will make or break me in the process. The narrower I define the process; the less likely I am to engage in the process. And the less I engage, the less likely I am to achieve what I most desire.
I have to take the filters off; step back from life and assess it – then see how what I do an a daily basis is the very thing that, by any other name; would cause me to curl up and hide from the world.
So let me suggest we start with looking at the phrase business networking from a totally different angle. Okay? (From Answers to Basic Business Challenges).
Linda S. Fitzgerald, M.S.Ed, CEO & Visionary Partner
A Women’s Place Network, Inc. dba
Affiliated Women International
Building a Community for Christian Business Women
The Neighborhood at Facebook
AWIBoutiques at Facebook
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://affiliatedwomeninternational.com//wp-content/uploads/2015/05/linda-google-NB-profile-pic.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]I’m Visionary Partner for Affiliated Women International (AWI) and have a fiery passion to see women become all they are designed to be – personally, professionally and spiritually. The AWI mission is to connect Christian women in business worldwide via our private ‘The Neighborhood’ network community. We inspire, educate, motivate and inform our members for success and encourage them to help each other succeed in life and business![/author_info] [/author]