Networking comes easy to some; but for others – not so much. For those of us who find making connections a chore, take a look into the mind of those with whom it comes so easily.I have a friend who is phenomenal at networking. As I watch her and the way she works, it reminds me of a toy from my childhood – Tinkertoys, a constructive play set. Remember it? One would connect the spools with sticks to construct windmills, Ferris wheels, creatures and buildings.
While we’ve likely all outgrown them by now, Tinkertoys can still spark creativity, imagination and ideas for networking – just as they did in our childhood. It just takes a pair of analogies:
- Spools: Your network– friends, neighbors, coworkers and acquaintances.
- Sticks: The glue that connects your network together – by common interest, profession or mutual connections.
Each member of your network has a specific set of unique skills, gifts, talents and interests. You enjoy spending time with each of these people for different reasons. And suffice it to say, everyone is connected somehow.
For example, one day you’re out with Wendy, who mentions that she wants to learn how to use the presentation tool Prezi. During the conversation, you remember that Jodi, another friend, recently talked about a presentation she did using this new tool. Instead of just nodding politely and forgetting the whole thing, you mention to Wendy about your conversation with Jodi. You ask Wendy (spool) if she would like to connect (stick) with Jodi (another spool). That’s the beginning of a valuable networking creation.
Is networking that simple? I think so! We’re often tempted to over-analyze the process, but the bottom line is it’s all about connections.
It will take some work and time to make those connections, but the process is a mutually beneficial one. After all, they might return a connection for you at some point.
Networking is more than making sales – it’s meeting needs, matching interests and making friends. Consider it a game and have fun with it. It just takes a little imagination and, frankly, a little child’s play.
What are your most successful networking approaches?