Networking keeps me in business and I frequently write about my own effective networking experiences. Wherever I go, I speak with people about working together at their next party or wedding. For example, my trio entertained at a recent San Francisco NACE meeting (National Association of Catering Exeutives), and afterwards I had an opportunity for some effective networking.
Everyone there was involved with producing a special event, like a wedding or a party. This meeting attracted caterers, event planners, wedding coordinators, and event professionals, like photographers, florists, and musicians. We attended to enjoy meeting friends — present colleagues and future clients. Our conversations seemed to focus on “What’s new with you?” and “How can we work together”, because the better we know each other, the smoother we collaborate and the better we serve our clients.
I noticed that everyone focusing on these two topics seemed to energize the evening and make our conversations especially productive and our networking effective.
Years ago I learned a great tip for effective networking: It helps to be helpful. So for me, the meeting began earlier. Before I arrived, I prepared myself to think about finding ways to work together with everyone I met. As though creating the expectation would make good things happen.
There’s nothing new here. I’m sure we all realize that imagining the goal helps us find whatever we’re looking for.
Now, I doubt that our hopes and dreams, by themselves, actually change the course of events. Instead, I think what’s going on is a matter of preparing our perception. Setting the stage so we’ll notice something particular in a normally ambiguous situation. For example, it could be seeing a fact that doesn’t otherwise stand out, or finding a hidden opportunity to take some action.
How does this apply to effective networking? Simple: Our conversations are more likely to explore mutual benefits when everyone prepares to ask “How can I help you?”, rather than perhaps “How many people can I meet here?” or “How many business cards can I collect here?”.
Bottom Line: Our effective networking conversations are more successful when we approach with an attitude of being helpful. How often do YOU ask, “How can I help you?”
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The Magnolia Jazz Band entertains regularly at weddings and parties throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. If you are ever nearby, you’ll love catching us in action, seeing and hearing us create a great mood. In the meantime, please join our Facebook fans, and get reminders for our public events.