You would have to be Tom Hanks living on an island with a volleyball named Wilson not to know that Social Media is hotter than a blowtorch right now. And while that’s all well and good, there are many, many people who seem to have forgotten that traditional networking still exists. Actually, it’s stronger than ever for real networkers because the effective use of Social Media opens up tons of doors for traditional networking.
Up until a few years ago, you never had to differentiate between “offline” and “online” networking. Social Media/Networking has changed all that. And while they may seem separate, in fact, they are far more alike than different. The irony is that we are not networking “with” computers, but “through” computers. And the best networkers move it offline as quickly as they can in order to develop true relationships with their networking partners.
Organizations like BNI and Le Tip have been around for decades because “All things being equal, people do business with and refer business to people they like, know and trust.” True as gravity. Every city in the country has weekly face-to-face networking meetings that are goldmines for effective and professional networkers. The key here is “effective and professional”. As in anything there are amateurs and there are professionals. The professional networkers understand that networking is about building and enhancing mutually-beneficial win-win relationships. Not transactional relationships. There are no people who are commodities, only people who think like commodities.
Check the business section of your local paper and at least once a week there will be a listing of all the upcoming networking meetings. It may serve you well to schedule at least one networking meeting per week into your calendar. “But, Kev…you don’t know how busy I am.” That’s what amateurs say. Try this one on “I’m too busy to kiss my wife or spend time with my kids.” How’s that fitting on you? Not so good, huh? Be that way, and soon you won’t have any wife or kids to worry about. Same thing with your network.
There are a lot of people out there right now who thought they had safe, secure jobs and then one day they wake up and their world is turned upside down. When’s the best tie to plant a tree? Twenty years ago. When’s the second best time to plant a tree? Now. Complaining that there isn’t enough time to network is the same as complaining that there isn’t enough time to eat right and exercise. Everyone has the same twenty-four hours a day. In reality, no one on earth has a time problem- we have priority problems. This may hurt, but it’s true.
Take a few minutes and either look in your local paper or online and find a few networking meetings in your area this week. Go. Show up. Add value. Ask people how you may serve them. It may blow their minds. And that’s a good thing. Pay it forward. Dig your well before you need the water.