When we are clear about our contribution to the world we will use all channels available to make that contribution happen.
Leaders with a purpose are ready to tackle any challenge that comes in their way, even their own uncomfortableness. Yesterday, I held a workshop on networking for introverts, nerds and academics. My basic message was that once you know why you are in the game and have developed the right strategy to play it, networking is as easy as ABC. What sounds easy to me though seems a challenge to many of my clients and as you could be one of my clients you might struggle with similar questions.
- Do you tell yourself that you are not worthy, not good enough or that you will never be as good as Peter, Paul or Mary?
- Do you tell yourself that you cannot go out there, leave your shell (which is the distance between your eyes and your smartphone) and just be in a crowd of people?
- Do you get anxiety attacks when you need to speak in public, in front of a larger group or when you have to present to senior management?
- Do you sometimes wonder how an American presidential candidate can draw large crowd when all his content is based on hate and polarization?
- Do you wonder how TV-Shows survive where the most intelligent sentence urged is “Hello, my name is Samantha”?
I sometimes do. And there are days when I feel like staying in bed but then true to my inner Hobbit-spirit I get up anyway. Cheerful with cup of coffee and am ready to walk another day towards Mordor with that ring around my neck that weighs heavily on me. My ring is the urge to help international professionals achieve what they would like to achieve in their international work and life. I serve the global people club (would it not be cute to have air hosts and hostesses dressed up as hobbits or characters from movies once in a while?).
Back to you: I think you should step out of your nerd narrative and consider to make contact with the human race. I will hold your hand and teach you a few strategies if you let me.
It’s time to question a basic theory of economics which is the homo oeconomicus because this theory is flawed. It assumes that human beings act rationally most of the time while increasing evidence of neuroscience proves that this is not the case. If you read German you can check out “Die emotionalen Grundlagen des Denkens” by Luc Ciompi. A lighter read is “Give and Take” by Adam Grant where Adam shows that “Givers” are more successful professionals in the long game. “Takers” might win a short race and “Matchers” will survive in organizations but both strategies are limited.
If you are into “game theory” and have worked with prisoner’s dilemma simulations, you have probably understood this principle already but we hardly meet others who feel the same way.
Next to having the right attitude I believe in the four P’s of networking: Purpose, Preparation, Presence and Promises.
Your networking purpose is defined by these questions:
- What is my contribution to the world right now?
- Which important goal would I like to achieve within the next three month?
- How can networking help me to achieve this goal?
- Do I already know who to network with?
Before larger events but also 1:1 exchanges it helps to prepare yourself with these questions:
- Who am I going to meet?
- What have these professionals achieved?
- What do we share or have in common?
- What could I offer them as a favor?
- What could I give them as a gift?
One of the major social barriers in 2016 is lack of attention. If you can learn to be fully present and in the moment and listen to your counterpart your interactions will be deeper and more satisfactory. Withhold your negative judgement for an hour and keep an open heart.
For me the easiest way to network is when I can help someone with a favor. Often, when I attend an event I make a promise for a connection or to send an information to the other person. It’s a great way to ensure the next contact. Then if we want to deepen the relationship I might ask them for lunch or coffee.