Networking and the microwave mentality

By Lilla Preston

I heard it said recently that business networking is ‘inherently distasteful’ because its objective was for the sole purpose of self-advancement. This does seem a somewhat extreme viewpoint.

Or you just might be one of those people that see networking as an irritating chore, judging it as a success only if a sale is made and lots of business cards exchanged. For others walking into a group of unfamiliar faces feels intimidating and coupled with that weighty expectation to appear confident and the pressure to succeed… can all contribute to frustration and disappointment. And for these reasons many continue to resist networking, thinking it’s a lot of work with little return on investment for their time and efforts. The ‘microwave mentality’ prevails, the expectation of quick results, and when networking doesn’t produce immediate returns, is considered a waste of time.

But as long as we think of networking as an opportunity to sell, it becomes a difficult task to do. If we approach networking from the standpoint that it is about building friendships and trustworthy long term relationships and collaboration, which takes time, our experience will be different. What would happen if our intent was curiosity and kindness rather than selling? Showing a genuine interest in other people, listening, sharing wisdom and helping someone out who needs a bit of assistance and just maybe others will do the same for you in return.

‘Real networking is not greed but generosity’ – K. Ferrazzi

Keep ‘networking’ separate from ‘selling’, and it becomes one of the most effective ways of creating and building business relationships that can result in new business leads and potential partnerships. If we regard each other as people all in the same boat rather than ‘business opportunities’ to be exploited, networking becomes a great and low cost way to make business contacts …and will result in new business over time.

We are very fortunate to be able to welcome some amazing networking organisations who hold regular networking events at the BIC in Sunderland including The Mussel Club and Sunderland City Professionals Network. Each has their own feel and focus but all offer a very relaxed and informal networking environment where you can start to build some new business relationships.

Looking forward to meeting you at one, or all, of these events soon.

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