Most of us are afraid of those awkward silences when we are having a conversation with a person we just met.
This fear keeps us inside our heads, thinking about what to say next, which prevents us from being present and listening.
This is a very uncomfortable situation.
But there is something amazing on the other side of that.
As you may already know I’m a big advocate of networking. And I define networking as the habit of building meaningful connections.
Networking is not going to events, networking is not exchanging cards or adding people on LinkedIn.
Networking is creating the mindset of always being ready to engage with other people, listen to what they have to say, and find ways to add value to them.
Key Point: Add Value to Them
Given that I encourage people to go to events and have informational interviews as much as possible, to exercise those networking muscles, I have to walk the talk.
Thanks to improvements I have done on my LinkedIn profile, people from different industries have been able to find me and invite to meet and collaborate on different activities. And also to sell me something.
Most of you would say that it is a waste of time if you are invited to a meeting that, without previous notice, turns into a sales pitch for something that you don’t need and won't buy. To me, it’s a workout at the Networking Gym.
Yes, at some point you have to say No. Because there are only 24 hours in each day. But when you are starting you should make the most out of every opportunity.
By putting yourself in this position you may just experience what is on the other side of that daunting and uncomfortable situations.
Dancing with Words
Venezuela is my motherland.
And a big part of our culture is dancing. Sometimes we don’t even need the music, any excuse to dance is good.
We are dancing salsa, merengue, tambores, and many other ones, almost since we are born.
I always wondered how a conversation would go with two good networkers. It both are ready to listen and want to know more about the other person would there be only questions in the conversation?
Now I have the answer to that question. It is like a dance between two people that enjoy music and dancing. People that can lead and follow at the same time.
And it is not the type of dance that happens at international competitions where participants are being judged and the main purpose is to win.
It is the type of dance that happens at a party, with two people that are dancing to enjoy each step, and not to show off.
There is a movie that may help you visualize this and it’s called “Dance with Me”. The leads were Vanessa Williams and Chayanne. And there is a scene where they go to a Latin club to dance, not with any structure competition, not with any goal in particular, just to have fun and allow the other dancers to also have fun.
Those are the networking conversations that we should strive to have.
And I recently had one of those.
Start with Alumni
Your alumni network will always be a safe place for you to start exercising your networking muscles.
The Bauer College Alumni Association hosts a monthly networking breakfast (You should go to the next one!). And it was at one of these events that I had the opportunity to meet Betsy.
We had a short conversation at the event, we connected on LinkedIn, and she invited me to meet for coffee to find opportunities to collaborate.
Of course, I said yes. And then I took the usual steps before I’m going to meet with someone.
I took a look at her LinkedIn profile and website to understand the ways in which I might be able to help her.
Betsy is the Principal at Assad Financial Group, LLC. An initial thought was that there might be a sales pitch in that conversation. And I was ok with that, listening to other people pitching or selling something to me is one of my favorite exercises of my networking workout.
Let’s face it, no one likes to be sold on something. Most of the time it will be uncomfortable for the person making the sale and the one being sold on. Which is exactly why we should be looking forward to these situations.
More Uncomfortable Situations = More Personal Growth
I met with Betsy for coffee. And then it happened.
Not the pitching, not the uncomfortable situation! The networking dance happened!
Without noticing, I was doing most of the talking, because Betsy kept asking great questions. I constantly had to be focused on not making it all about me, because I also wanted to get to know Betsy and find opportunities to help her.
After such a great networking dance I was curious and wanted to know more about Betsy and about the mindsets, strategies, and tactics, that she used to build and train her networking skills.
She kindly accepted to be interviewed and share her insights.
In the next article, we will take a closer look at Betsy’s journey to becoming great at building meaningful connections.
We will break down her mindset, strategies, tactics, and routines so that you can take action and also become a great networker.
Keep in mind that two of the most important things that you can do, to start building meaningful connections today, are:
- Focus on adding value to other people
- Lean into the uncomfortable situations and conversations, those are opportunities for growth
Learning and sharing knowledge are my passions, let’s connect if those are yours too.
At Assad Financial Group, we help individuals, businesses, and families improve their lives by making educated financial decisions to help achieve their dreams.
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