Monday, October 12, 2009

Who’s afraid of networking?

Life is about connections. Business doesn’t happen in a vacuum; it happens between people. Networking is a key function in almost every business and career, so what keeps us from doing it? Perhaps it’s our lack of understanding of the networking process. Or maybe it’s our fears, many unfounded, about doing it just right. Here are some of the most common stumbling blocks to networking

  • It’s a waste of my time—it is hard for me to believe, but there are still some people who don’t see the value of networking. After over a decade of teaching and coaching entrepreneurs I still have to point out that personal brilliance or product novelty is simply not enough to create success.
  • I won’t have anything to say—that’s okay, because some of the best networkers are great listeners. Real connections are made through conversations and not through elevator speeches.
  • Everyone there will be trying to sell me something—how do you know that? There are lots of reasons for networking and one of the best is creating your “team”. Networking helps business owners to find that perfect accountant, real estate agent, or PR expert. Think of all the people who are shopping and not selling and you’ll feel more confident.
  • I’m too shy—you don’t have to be “the life of the party” to be a good networker. There are no rules that state you need to meet everyone in the room or be the last to leave either. That’s the great thing about networking; it’s about building relationships and not sticking to a rule book. Focus on meeting a couple of people at each event and really connecting.

 About the author: “Karen Southall Watts has been training and coaching entrepreneurs for over a decade. She teaches business courses for Bellingham Technical College.”

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