Having been in business since 1982 and starting to understand the power of association since that time, it still amazes me how few people really understand what networking is about and how effective it can be for us if we do it right. 

As the late, great Zig Ziglar says, “If we help others get what they want, we will get what we want”. In other words, we have to give before we get. It is how life works. We need to take our eyes off ourselves and put them on others. Networking will not work for you if your attitude is to attend events just to sell your products or services, so if this is what you are doing STOP and STOP NOW! If you meet me at a networking meeting and this is what you do to me, I will delete you. Whatever relationship could have developed will stop there and then. 

I remember years ago that the Thames Valley Chamber did an article entitled “A day in the life of a serial networker”. It was an insult to those of us who understand how to network. This guy never went to any networking event more than once. He worked the networking circuit and worked every room he went to. That guy – in my opinion – is an idiot. How can you ever expect to pick up business if you are not building relationships. 

We need to be respectful of others at networking events. If someone asks you what you do – whether on zoom or face to face – please make sure you give them time to explain what they do and ask how you can help them. It has to be a two way conversation. Remember true networking is helping others, looking out for your fellow networkers, trying to connect them to others you know. Give and you will get back. 

Last week, I had a face to face meeting with someone I met at a zoom networking event recently. When we sat down with our coffees, his first question to me was “What can I help you with?” He was under the impression that I was just there to employ his services. Anyway, the meeting was totally one sided. I was the one asking questions. I wanted to know what he did and who would be good connections for him. Not once did he ask me what I did and how could he help me. However, I did promise him I would do a LinkedIn post and promote his service to my contact base which I did and I am sure some of my contacts will use his services. That conversation was totally one sided. It doesn’t bother me as I know it will come back but sometimes it comes back from the most unexpected services. 

We can help others by asking open ended questions. Take the time to find out about others, help them in any way you can, connect them to your contacts and do not worry if you don’t get a chance to talk about yourself. People like to talk about themselves, so let them. It will come back. Just have faith. 

This article was first published on LinkedIn by Richard Knight on 21/11/2021