Traditionally, when people think about networking, they think of people exchanging business cards at light speed, meeting people pushing their own agendas, and getting out of their comfort zone. It feels like such a daunting task. I thought the same way about networking for a long time. Until I realized something, the best way to network is to be yourself, be human.
I worked in sales or customer service for almost 10 years. Some of the jobs I had were pretty hard work, answering or making almost 100 phone calls a day. It was super draining. As I look back now, the best calls I had, and the ones that usually lead to sales, were the ones I acted most like myself.
In reality, it’s hard to be ourselves. Especially in sales, we all have an agenda to push, but we’re also all human beings. I realized when I started treating people like people, showing them my true self, and asking them about who they are, relationships started to build.
There’s also a really cool byproduct that comes from networking. It’s called friendship. I can’t tell you how many friends I’ve made from from networking events. When I go into an event or meeting with an open mind, and no agenda rather than meeting new people, I usually gain a new friend out of it. However, if I would’ve done the opposite, and tried to push my agenda, I probably would’ve left empty handed. It all starts with our mindset.
Networking isn’t difficult. Being ourselves is the difficult part. We all want to be loved and accepted, and we’re afraid to let our true selves out. The funny thing is, that our true selves is what gains us the belonging we want! It’s a catch 22 at it’s best!
The next time you go into a networking setting, give yourself permission to be yourself, go into it with an open mind, and you might just gain some really cool friendships.
Wesley Hoffman is one of our 2016 partners in the Ready to Launch Entrepreneur Contest and will provide a one hour mentoring session to the winner. Follow Wes at Treehouse Networkshop to learn how he’s helping all of us be more “human.”
In a networking setting, are you a 1) social butterfly, 2) fly on the wall, or 3) avoid human interaction at all costs?