Love it or hate it, networking works. So why do most people struggle with it? The good news is after many years of research, attending hundreds of events and thousands of countless hours studying reports, I realized there are only 2 reasons networking isn’t working for most people and why Grandma would kick your ass at networking today.So what is the first problem?
Ironically it’s making small talk. Starting a conversation with a stranger and then carrying it along. Knowing what to say so you don’t sound cheesy or inauthentic, or worse still, like a late night infomercial pitchman is a lost art.
People desperately want to connect authentically and discover more about the people they meet, yet they invariably sabotage their best efforts and leave the interaction feeling unsuccessful.
The thing is, we know what authentic feels like. We know when we’re around someone who is comfortable and in the zone and therein lies part of our answer: the comfort zone. When we’re in it we’re naturally us, but when we’re out of it, the lesser parts of our character come out to play and they’re not helpful.
And the second problem where Grandma has you beat is equally as important as the first. Network without this and you’re wasting your time:
People don’t follow up after they meet, Grandma does – heck, she may even send cookies!
Not following up after you meet someone just blows my mind! Consider this, you’ve spent a couple of hours outside your comfort zone being authentically interested in people, making small talk and learning about each other and when the conversation was over you did what?
If you’re like most people (and I’m not singling you out here) you probably dropped the ball. You don’t follow up.
As I write this article and think about the two things that torpedo networking, I’m struck by the fact making small talk and sending a follow up note are two very old social skills that seem to have fallen by the way-side of life.
It’s fascinating to me the 2 reasons why networking isn’t working today for most people is not because of some technology failure, or timing or other limited resource, it’s because we’ve not learned a couple of basic “old school” skills from yesteryear.
Grandma did, in fact it was just common decency to learn how to talk to people and just plain rude if you didn’t send a thank you note afterwards!
That’s why Grandma would kick your ass at networking today and why you need to focus on just these 2 areas to convert those conversations into cash!
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