Why You Shouldn't EVER Network To Get Ahead
From the moment that you start going to entrepreneurship events, business workshops and start up courses, you hear the same mantra uttered. 'Network! Network as hard as you can! Thrust your business cards under people's noses and MAKE THEM LOVE YOU!!"
Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little. But the pressure to network is real. And yet, throughout this whole time, I've been given one piece of networking advice that stuck.
'If you treat it like networking, or call it networking, people will sense that, and they won't respond.'
Yes, PEOPLE BUY FROM PEOPLE - We know that, we hear it all the time. But people also DON'T buy from people who are desperate for a sale, clearly only want to use your for the sake of their own business, and use words like 'networking' to describe simple interactions between themselves and other people.
I know I'm emotionally scarred by the proliferation of pyramid scheme wannabe Jordan Belforts that seem to be constantly popping up on my timeline (I get it, we have a shitty job market to face, people are going to get into silly situations when they are promised easy money) but really - using the term 'networking' to describe what most people would call 'being a normal human being' just sounds a bit arsey, doesn't it?
So don't network. Don't sell, even subtley. Don't expect anything in return.
Here's my advice, which is admittedly pretty poor given that I've been looking seriously into starting my own business since late September of this year, and not much longer than that:
If someone is doing something cool, or just seems cool... or even looks cool - go and tell them.
And then, once you've told them how cool their thing/attitude/outfit is, ask them questions about how they got their coolness.
'Hey, I just listened to that presentation you gave and I thought your idea for a company providing lonely elderly people with pet penguins via an app was really cool. How did you first come up with that idea?'
because FACT: Nobody dislikes talking about their successes. They may mimic modesty and giggle (although balding men in suits do tend to skip the giggling, and the hair flicks, I've found) , but deep down, they are proud and so they should be.
Have a conversation. Ask as many questions as you can without sounding insane, and they will begin to ask some back. Perhaps, they might think what you do or want to do is cool.
Here comes the win-win: whether they liked you or not, they will offer you a business card.
If they liked you: 'Here, have my business card. We can continue this chat via e-mail.'
If they didn't like you: 'Here, have my business card. I'm sure we can dicuss this further via e-mail.'
Guess what? They either want to get in touch with you or simply get rid of you and move on!
Why is this a good scenario you ask? They might hate me! Well yes, but...
Now that you've realised that your WORST CASE SCENARIO is an email that goes unresponded to, you can stop that irrational fear of talking to strangers with a logical probably scenario in your head.
SO get out there. Talk. Ask questions, respond to questions, and accept their ambiguously offered business card with glee!