Have you ever learned a lesson only to realize someone else was modeling that same truth for you for years and you never saw it? Maybe it is just me – the slow learner. My lesson is about networking and connecting. We have all heard the networking secrets. First we have: it is not about what you know, it is about who you know. I bought into that and tried to know the right people, which was frustrating at best and phony at worst. Second we have: it is not about who you know, it is about who knows you. This one felt so true that I have repeated it often. But the real truth is that both of these are wrong. Networking is not about you at all. No one wants to know what you know or really cares that much for knowing you. But, what does matter is the simplest secret and was modeled to me by my own father for all my life.
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Five Networking Secrets
After years of trying to sale myself and finding myself in awkward situations where I was trying to push an agenda, my own agenda, with people who could care less, I began to discover what did work. But now I realize where I learned it.
My parents were always the center of attention at family get togethers, even with extended family. But especially my dad seemed to be the one people sought out for advice. Why?
1. Focus on Other People
When my dad would be with me or my four other siblings, he would always ask about us. It was not till I was about 30 years old that I realized that we rarely ask about him or what he is doing. But as I watched, he did the same thing with other people also. He would ask about them and pay attention to what they were doing and what they cared about.
2. Seek Out The Quiet
You could always count on my dad seeking out that wallflower in the room. Even in group settings where we did not know a lot of people, he tended to make contact with those and ask them questions.
3. Be Full of Questions
Always asking. How was your trip? How is your home bath renovation going? How is the new dog? Asking people questions about what they care about and what they are involved in gives them reason to talk and share.
4. Care About the Story
Too many times I have been with family hearing a story that I did not care to hear (drama) and I would find a way to walk away only to later realize my dad had not walked away, but was listening to every detail. He cared about what was on their mind – even the drama. He somehow rose above the drama and listened out of a heart of caring.
5. Be Short on Advice
While I know dad has tons of advice to give, I find he is rarely quick to give it. In fact, at times I feel you have to beat it out of him. But I now realize that most of us want to talk, and few of us want advice, especially when we have not asked for it.
Networking: It is Not About You
Wherever I go with my dad, I find those who know him immediately seek him out. They know he will listen and is a trusted friend. So, for all my expertise in networking and all the statements about networking success, I have come to realize that networking is not about me at all. Networking is about paying attention to, caring for, and serving others. Thanks Dad.
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Question: When was the last time you focused on others while networking? You can leave a comment by clicking here.