The Networker #7: Short-Sighted Networking – How to Spot and How to Avoid
How many times has this happened to you at a networking event?
You get chatting with someone, establish what you both do, then before you know it they start looking over your shoulder. Because they’ve decided you can’t help them.
I’ve been victim of it (violin please). And I’m sure you have been too.
Perhaps you’re guilty of doing it?! I hope not.
It’s my second biggest networking pet hate.
I call this ‘short-sighted networking’.
Not thinking beyond the person you’re speaking to.
And in doing so, cutting off so much opportunity. Whether you realise it or not.
Here’s a story from my own experience.
I worked with a member at Network My Club called Kerry, who ran a small virtual PA business.
She joined having become frustrated at other groups where some members would overlook her.
Naturally, I was curious why and what they ignored.
Turns out, it was because they’d decided she wouldn’t be able to help them. Because on paper, she had a very small business.
But here’s what they ignored.
They ignored asking her what inspired her to start her business. Or what she was doing before starting the business.
If they did, they’d have learned she started the business to spend more time with her 3 young children.
If they did, they’d have learned it was so she wasn’t 3-4 hours a day commuting into London everyday.
If they did, they’d have learned she had a 25+ year career in the City, finishing as Partner for one of the biggest law firms in the UK.
NOW you’d be interested in getting to know her.
Particularly if your target market was in legal or professional services.
Her network was ENORMOUS.
And by cutting her off, they cut off all this potential opportunity.
Think Beyond The Person
Think about it.
Everyone has a network from their professional career. Being it other they work with or have worked with.
Clients, suppliers, partners, colleagues etc.
You never know who they know that could lead to the perfect introduction or lead. Or the next big opportunity.
Neglecting this by being short-sighted is one thing.
But often the personal network gets neglected too.
You might as well be networking with blinkers on.
Everyone has a friend, brother, sister, mother, father, uncle, cousin, teammate, friends from hobbies – I could go on.
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve introduced people between my professional and personal network, and vice versa.
And been on the receiving end of similar introductions.
Or that I’ve heard at events:
“Oh my brother does that.”
“My best friend’s wife does that.”
“I play tennis with a guy that does that.”
Because the power of networking doesn’t stop at a networking event. Or only involve the person you’re speaking to.
It’s the people they know where you want to be front of mind, and being spoken about positively.
Think about scenarios where you could be dropped in conversation:
- Two parents are chatting at the school gates about their house going on the market – are you the estate agent they think of?
- At a family party, there’s a conversation about a divorce – are you the solicitor they think of?
- In a sporting changing room, teammates are talking about a business they are thinking of starting – are you the accountant they think of?
This all links back to my definition of networking; becoming the person people think of, when they think of what you do.
And this gets unlocked by removing the short-sighted networking approach.
I loved this quote by Jacqueline Gold OBE; “Every time you go into a room, you never know who you’re going to meet that could change your life.”
You never know who that person knows. You never know what their background is.
It’s up to you to find out.
So next time you catch yourself about to glance over someones shoulder.
Remember what you’re potentially cutting off.
Long-sighted networking starts when you:
- Take a genuine interest
- Ask questions from a place of genuine curiosity
- Have an open mind
- Learn about others
- Lose the ‘what’s in it for me’ mentiality
- Think beyond the person you’re speaking to
Network events are the start of the conversation.
And the reality is the majority of people you meet won’t be ready to buy from you, or even be your clientele.
But the people they know might be.
You could find new opportunities coming from those you least expected.
Be open minded, be curious and be interested.
Because away from the event, when the topic of what you do comes up, are you who they think of?
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