If you aren’t currently networking, maybe you should.
No matter if you are an employee or have your own business, networking is an essential activity. You don’t expect results by exercising once a month. Why would you plan to build relationships by networking only on occasion?
Networking is like building a bridge. It takes planning and execution over time. Before you can use the bridge, you need to make the bridge. The same applies to develop professional relationships – networking both inside and outside of your organization.
If you haven’t already, at some point in your career, you’ll need to go outside your organization to make new connections and strengthen existing ones. It may be to find a new job, resource, a new hire, or learn more about the external market. If you are wise, external networking is something you do throughout your career and not just when we need something. However, like most other professionals, you’re busy and have put off networking. I understand. It takes time and energy, and you barely have time to go home for dinner, let alone leave the office for a networking lunch.
So what about networking inside your organization? Are you connecting to the right people to help you get things done?
Processes are critical, but it’s people who get things done. The people who will respond to you and help you are the ones with whom you have a healthy and positive relationship. That’s networking.
Remember, you have to plan and build the bridge before you can use it.
If you think of networking as a dreaded activity full of sleazy and pushy sales types, shift your perspective. Instead of approaching networking like the event of a competitive sale, think of it as building friendships.
Relationship building is a long-term investment in your career and success. Moreover, building relationships begins with connecting to your audience, even an audience of one. One great way to make and strengthen networking connections is through stories.
Creating these valuable friendships includes creating new relationships as well as maintaining and nurturing existing ones. No matter where you are in any relationship, it’s about building trust and credibility.
All lasting business is built on friendship.Alfred A. Montapert
Trust requires us to know one another. In a new relationship internal to your organization, you are just getting to know each other, and in that situation, crafting a ‘who are you,’ story is a great start.
For external networking, this story ties directly to your elevator pitch. Your elevator pitch sets-up your first compelling story. If the thought of crafting an elevator pitch makes you squirm, don’t panic.
Don’t think of an elevator pitch as a sales tool, but rather as an invitation to a conversation. To dive deeper into writing your pitch, read ‘Book Yourself Solid’ by Michael Port. In it, he describes the perfect pitch he calls the ‘who and do what’ statement. The statement describes, whom you serve and what value or benefit you deliver. It’s a perfect lead in to a story as it is crafted to inspire the response: tell me more. That is your cue to share your story showing what you have to offer. It’s the first step in connecting and building a relationship.
Using ‘Everyday Storytelling for Success’ as a guide, you can build your collection of stories and identify which to use for key business moments.