One of our followers asked for a specific discussion on networking and partnering with like-minded individuals. We thought this was an excellent topic and decided to get our perspective out to the readers!
So, what does it mean to network or attend networking events? And why is it important?
Our thoughts on this topic stem from our experiences with:
· Corporate Networking - people who may or may not look like us
· Business Networking - people who share common desires, but have individual interests
· General Networking - people outside of our comfort zones who think differently than us
These categories are not one size fits all, but they likely speak to most people in the AA demographic [See Part II: The Black Network]. The point of networking, at bare minimum, is to build a list of go-to’s that support you and can aid in various aspects of your life. You also want your network to recognize you as a come-to-mind type of person. Before we define what C2M person means, let’s take a step back and delve deeper into our thoughts on networking.
Networking is full of conversations, vulnerability (openness), transparency, human connection, and ultimately, value. These 'characteristics' of networking are not as easy to adhere to as they may seem. To consider being or doing any of those things in front of strangers can be a bit overwhelming, but it is necessary to create the valuable relationships that make collaboration and growth possible. To network means to be present in the moment while in the company of other people. It means not expecting anything more than to dialogue and recognize where your sharable strengths lie. It means being open with yourself about not being able to achieve your desires alone. People need other people to achieve!
It all makes sense, right?
Well truth be told, most of us struggle with the networking aspect of our lives. We sometimes meet a person and talk for 30 minutes – a long time in today’s busy society – and never think to exchange contact information. In fact, most of us don’t carry a card (business or otherwise). The next difficult part of the networking game is follow-through, assuming you exchange contact information. This is particularly important in corporate or business networking. When someone extends an offer to coach or mentor, provide a service or consult, or welcomes you to contact him or her “if you ever need anything,” why wouldn’t you take them up on it? Several of us at #BCC have been notorious at following up (relatively quickly) when given the greenlight. People will remember the gap in time from when they met you and when you contacted them. The idea is to develop a working relationship and create value, otherwise what is the purpose of exchanging information or even talking in the first place? No one likes to be used and called upon only when things are needed. Transparency plays a key role here. We’ve found that when you tell someone you will contact them in XYZ timeframe, it should be accompanied by a sort of agenda. It is practical to let a person know what you hope to discuss, and how the discussion will impact your personal or professional goals.
BCC, y’all have said a lot…what are things we can start to do now?
Some of the things that will hold you over until we publish Parts II and III of this blog series are below:
Start with people you already “loosely” know
Practice having small talk with people
Work on an elevator pitch
Define what type of network you want to have
Where will this networking take place?
Learn to ask for contact information (not ONLY social media names)