So many people I know hate networking. Even the ones I would consider great connectors.
Maybe it’s because the term has gained a negative connotation.
A lot of people, including myself, went to lots of networking events just to be faced with people who want to sell us stuff or hand out as many business cards as possible.
In this article, I want to explore why so many people hate networking and what a world could look like where you love connecting with others online and offline.
“I Hate Networking But I Love Meeting Friends I Don’t Know Yet”
In March this year, I spent a day in St. Gallen with a few friends to work on a new venture called Social Entrepreneurship for Kids Academy.
There were more than 20 people involved in that venture and we all came together to develop new ideas and ways to help kids follow their dreams and build social enterprises.
When I walked into that room, I felt like I was surrounded by friends I did not know yet. That was even before I talked to anyone. The energy in the room was vibrant and I could feel the positive energy.
Imagine this for a second. What if every new person you meet was a friend you don’t know yet?
In late 2014, I was at a small gathering in Zurich where I met a famous billionaire entrepreneur and he said “If I can’t imagine myself spending three days on a boat with somebody, I will not do business with them”.
What I mean by friend is somebody you love being around, somebody you deeply resonate with.
To help you make these connections with friends you don’t know yet, I created the List of 180+ Places to Meet Fellow ChangeMakers in Switzerland, Europe and Around the World.
What “The Right People” Actually Means
Whenever I hear people talk about the kinds of people they want to meet, they call them “the right people”. But what does that mean? What is right?
Interestingly, it has little to do with somebody’s social status or how successful they seem. Sure, we are drawn to successful people many times but there has to be something in place first before we get inspired to be around somebody.
Who inspires you?
I love asking this question because the people who inspire you many times reflect your core set of values.
Some people who inspire me are Richard Branson, Robin Rice, Grace Clapham & Solonia Teodres, Simon Sinek and Seth Godin.
They inspire me because all of them share at least some if not all of my core values – Freedom, Impact and Connection.
So the first pillar of “the right people” is a shared set of values.
There is also a second pillar. A similar vision for the future.
For instance, I recently connected my Coach who is the creator of the Just Be U Revolution with another friend, Robin Rice, who is the leader behind the Be Who You Are Productions company.
That was an easy call. If you just look at the names they came up with for what they’re building, it makes no sense that they are not connected.
By the way, make sure you join us in the webinar with Robin Rice on “A Catalyst for Disruptive Social Change” on Thursday, 30th April 2015.
Part of my purpose is connecting what always belonged together.
So the two pillars are:
- A shared set of values
- A similar vision for the future
Doing Business on Top of These Pillars
Many entrepreneurs and leaders who are looking for investors, business partners, joint venture partners or influential leaders to connect with, only lead with business instead of considering the two pillars.
When people go to events to get new clients or hand out as many business cards as possible, they only lead with business.
What if we spent our time connecting with people who share our values and have a similar vision for the future first, and then build the business component on top of that?
Then, you could lead through curiosity and generosity.
This is what I helped my clients do over the past two years and it’s what I do every day.
The reason I get to hang out with so many amazing people like Rick Clemons, Robin Rice, Grace Clapham, Solonia Teodres, Perry Gladstone and countless others, is that I lead through curiosity and generosity and talk about my vision and mission when it’s my turn to talk.
How to Seek Out the Right Events
I love meeting people face to face. However, there is always an opportunity cost involved in going to events.
Let’s say you go to an event that costs CHF 700.-. You have to travel for maybe 3 hours both ways and spend 10 hours there including aperitif.
Your cost is no longer CHF 700.-.
Let’s calculate CHF 250.- per hour (yes, your time is valuable) for your time. Suddenly we are at CHF 4000.- for a one day event.
If you spend CHF 4000.- on an event for one day, you want to be sure you get some really good value from it.
By value I mean tangible and intangible value.
Are you going to make at least 3-4 connections you can do business with in the near future?
How high is the chance that you will meet people there who truly inspire you?
Will you get a chance to meet the speakers?
So with all this taken into account, you want to make sure you spend your time wisely. There is only so much time you have in your life. You want to spend it the people who want to talk towards your vision with you.
Events I love going to are always at the intersection of three things.
2. Personal or Professional Growth
3. Making a Difference
I created this list to make it easy for you to find such events.
How to Make the Right Connections on LinkedIn
Many people come to me and ask for help in making powerful connections on LinkedIn.
It’s no different than making connections at an event or anywhere you go. When I connect with people on LinkedIn, I’m always looking for the ones who have something to say.
By reading people’s summary you can evaluate really well how far ahead they are on their journey of personal growth and if what they do is aligned with who they are.
Let’s not overcomplicate it.
When you read somebody’s summary and nothing resonates (not in your head but in your heart), skip it.
When you read somebody’s summary and you light up, smile and feel that something resonates (even if you don’t know exactly why), stop thinking and reach out to that person.
I recently spoke to an amazing entrepreneur who learned many life lessons from bankruptcy, owning million-dollar houses and helicopters, to selling everything he owned to launch a new venture that is closest to his heart.
He is a brilliant example of leading through curiosity and generosity when connecting.
His wife always dreamed of meeting the Dalai Lama. A few weeks ago, he made a connection with somebody on LinkedIn, seemingly out of nowhere. He felt the urge to meet with him even though for no obvious business reason.
When they met, he felt the urge to share his wife’s dream with his new connection and as it turned out, this new friend knew the Dalai Lama very well and had visited him countless times.
Now they booked a trip to meet him again all together.
How can you turn networking from something daunting into a way to make connections with remarkable people?
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