Remember: Genuine wins. Be yourself.
Nobody likes a room full of strangers, but most people enjoy meeting someone really nice and interesting. So be yourself, smile, and say hello. The rest is a piece of cake!
Quality, not quantity of contacts. Making one good friend is worth all the sacrifice of time and expense, and mostly you leave events with several good friends.
To make new friends, you must actually be friendly. So talk to people. Smile with kindness and when you strike up a conversation, honestly listen.
Listen with all your heart. When you listen, think about how you might use your network or influence to help the other person. Refuse to focus for one instant on how that person can “benefit you”, and focus all your attention on how you might help or open a door for them.
Find common ground. You might have very different zip codes and accents, but most people share common ground of some sort~ family, stress at work, challenge of juggling it all… if you listen you can hear clues as to how you may have more in common than you think. And if you don’t? Well you just met a really fascinating, and very different new friend that should certainly bring some new perspectives to your life. What a gem!
Remember the ASK. You see, networking is more than the initial meeting and discussion. A network is a living breathing thing, it’s a tapestry woven together of uniquely gifted people that are willing to help and cheer you on. What an amazing concept! And yet we women forget the key to unlocking the network’s power. The key? The key is the ASK. We women forget to, or are afraid to, ASK. So put on your big girl britches and ASK, ladies. We get not because we ASK not. Don’t be afraid to ASK for help from your network when you need it. They will overwhelm you with their goodness and generosity.
Remember to Pay it Forward. Building Cornerstone Recruitment Group from the kitchen table to a highly successful International business required more of me than I could ever have imagined. In fact, it required more of me, my husband and Co-Founder, my best friend and VP of Sales, and our entire extended family that all now work for the firm. It is not a full-time job. It is a life-time job. And while I’m honored to be a part of this journey, the journey has taught me the remarkable, exponential value of Paying it Forward. You see, others have done for me, particularly in the early days, that which I could not have ever been able to do for myself. They opened doors. They encouraged. They championed and rooted for CRG. They endorsed us. All on their own volition. And now, because I cannot repay a debt that large, I am committed to spending the rest of my journey paying it FORWARD to others whom we encounter. I encourage you, dear reader, to do the same. Never ever doubt the power of extravagant kindness paid forward.
The fortune really is, in the follow up. A recent graduate recently interviewed me and asked the question, “What is the #1 advice that you would share with a person entering the workforce regarding networking?” I considered this question very insightful. You see, in business and in most things in life it truly is not only WHAT you know, but very much also, WHO you know. Therefore, networking is not only the art of meeting people (very helpful) but moreover, in building meaningful relationships with people. And creating meaningful relationships takes time. And effort. And time and effort take… well, time! So you must keep track of people. There are countless ways to do this, and apps to do this, but for me, I’m a sucker for Linkedin. It just makes life too darn easy.
Keep an open heart. You may be surprised to realize that in the course of your life and career, you have the capacity to make many, many new friends. Old friends are cherished like gold, and new friends like silver, right? So keep your guard down (I know, you’ve been hurt before and it might happen again, but we cannot risk living without friends for the idea of avoiding pain. That is not okay. Too many rich friendships we might miss out on!)
You may compete with yourself, only. Women, I have a fiercely competitive spirit that drives me every moment I’m awake (and caffeinated). But that competitive spirit is never, ever, ever, EVER unleashed on my friends. You see, comparison and competition is a sure-fire way to destroy relationship and conversations of the heart. We need one another on this journey, and competing and comparing has no place amongst friends. We celebrate one another’s wins and we grieve when our friends suffer loss and pain. That’s it, plain and simple.
So within your network of women, be the most inspiring and authentic, fierce but amazing YOU. And oh, the places you’ll go!
I’m rooting for you and would love to network with you. Reach out and let me hear from you, and particularly if there is any way that I can help you on your journey.