…is that there’s no point “networking.”
Networking is fundamentally pretty pointless.
On the surface it looks like it has value. You feel good when you’re “networking.” You feel productive or that you’re getting somewhere.
But that’s all superficial.
At the core of all business and commercial transactions is value.
“Networking” on the superficial level won’t get you very far. As is usually the case like everything in life when you try to affect things on the superficial level rather than going to the core of it.
Isn’t it logical that if you have bad skin you should probably address it at the fundamental level? Eat healthier, drink more water, get more sleep, exercise or deploy a combination of all the above.
But too many people choose the shortcut hence forgetting a core tenet of life — there are no shortcuts in life. But does this stop people from trying to find shortcuts? Nope that’s why there exists a multi-billion dollar industry selling all forms of skincare, makeup, creams and other newfangled substances to treat/cover the blemishes on your skin.
Or what about those belly-fat-hiding clothes called “shapewear” which are tight-fitting underwear intended to control and shape the figure. People love quick fixes so much they are willing to wear these things even at the risk of negative health effects. Instead of taking the effort to diet, eat clean, exercise and you know, God forbid, actually lose weight.
These are all quick fixes.
Short term fixes that don’t work in the long run. It’s all smoke and mirrors and you’re building your house on sand.
What’s all this got to do with networking?
Networking is the quick fix in business and commerce.
You think that by networking you’re “hacking life” or taking a shortcut or whatever, but that’s rarely the case in reality. Most people aren’t dumb and can sense if you’re being superficial or genuine. But even more than that it’s about value – the human instinct to ask “what can I get out of this relationship?”
In the exact same way that you want to network with that awesome person because you’re thinking about all the value and benefits you will get out of it. You have to put yourself in their shoes as well, they are human too.
So then the question you need always ask yourself is:
What is it I can bring to the table?
Everyone needs a reason to sit at the table. Everyone needs to bring something to the table.
This is especially true in business and commercial relationships.
Even if you’re really likeable if you bring nothing to the table it will be hard for others to help you even if they wanted to. Because this is business, it’s not a charity. You can’t expect handouts so remember to always focus on how you can bring value to the other person.
In the words of Jerry Maguire you need to “help me help you help me.”
How can you get started?
Now you understand that the core of “networking” isn’t really “networking” (if that makes sense). Instead it’s about how you can provide value to others upfront.
How can you get started applying this?
Instead of spending most of your time “networking” it might be wiser to focus on building your skills, capabilities, assets or anything else of value. So that when the times comes you have something to offer and bring to the table.
Many of you already have various skills so those of you that do can get started right away.
I call the following concept Value Based Networking (VBN) and it’s inspired by what Gary Vee talks extensively about in his book Jab Jab Jab Right Hook — you need to give give give up front and then ask.
Some examples of value based networking – “free” is your friend
Are you good at video scripting/editing? Hit up that influencer on Instagram or YouTube whom you want to “network” with and instead of trying to make jokes, small talk or let alone ask for something (come on they don’t even know you from a bar of soap (yet) so don’t do this), offer to do some videos for them for free.
If you’re good at web design offer to do free design work for your “target” influencer.
If you’re good at painting offer to paint a picture of them which they can frame and keep free of charge.
If you know a certain contact whom you’re sure this other guy would love to meet, connect them together. Set up the meeting and they will remember you for having made the introduction.
…and so on and on…The possibilities are endless.
Remember, free is your friend.
Give it away for free and the irony is it is a matter of time before you start getting something back. Be generous with your skills and ideas. Offer to teach. Contribute to online/offline communities. Connect your contacts with others.
Soon others will see the value you add and feel the need to reciprocate accordingly. This need to reciprocate is embedded in human nature.
Lastly remember that real effective “networking” is done before you even need something. So don’t leave it till the last moment when you desperately need something before you start.
It is far more effective to always be “jabbing” well before you ask for something. It’s much more potent this way because then people won’t question your motives and think you’re only doing this for them (or treating them well) because you want something in return. It’s got to be natural or they will question your motives and sincerity.
So what ideas do you have on more effective ways of “networking?” Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.