Networking is recognised as a key business skill, but often elicits a sigh from even the most senior and experienced professional. “Yes, yes, I know the ability to build and maintain business relationships is critical, but networking just doesn’t work.” A common response, I’m sure you’ll agree.
For many, networking is a daunting prospect. Entering a room full of people you don’t know and engaging them in conversation can be a challenge. For others, it is an opportunity to sell, sell, sell or at least collect as many business cards as possible. This often alienates fellow networkers and achieves little. The end result is a fleeting or shallow relationship, or more often than not, nothing – no return at all for the time and energy spent at the event. Eventually people turn their backs on networking, and, in the process, miss out on its true potential.
With the advent of social media and the proliferation of online networks, networking has a new impetus. The opportunities have increased exponentially, yet many of the challenges are the same. People are overwhelmed by the number of social networking sites. Many have no idea who to connect with and how to maintain that connection. They are wasting an enormous amount of time and energy and getting little or no return.
Others have embraced the new technology and have developed a personal network of several thousand people. But connecting is not enough. You can have all the friends and followers you like but building and maintaining relationships takes time, and there are only so many hours in the day. With lack of support, connections remain flimsy and results are limited.
The true power of networking, both online and offline, is in recognising the value of the connections we make. For those who are able to take their casual conversations and transform them into productive relationships, networking offers huge potential.
As the world around us has changed, so too must the way we approach networking. We need to shift from the ‘luck of the draw’ to a directed effort – and to do that we need strategies and tools that allow us to reach out to more people, to build stronger relationships and to make those relationships productive and beneficial.
Melissa Giovagnoli Wilson is one of the world’s leading experts on the development of networks as a means of growing and accelerating brand loyalty and performance improvement both inside and outside organisations. For more than a decade, Melissa’s organisation, Networlding, has worked with organisations like AT&T, CNA, UBS, Hewitt, Motorola and Disney, as well as many thousands of individuals, to harness their connections to access opportunities, success and fulfilment.
“I created a method to change random, “one-shot” networking into mutually beneficial and consistently productive connections.” explains Melissa. “Networlding is a seven step process to enable you to make meaningful connections and leverage those connections in new and powerful ways.”
“Whereas networking is an often haphazard process of making contacts to achieve short-term and often one-sided goals, Networlding is a purposeful process of collaboration that not only achieves mutual goals but also leads to professional and personal fulfilment.”
Melissa continues, “Networlding relationships start when you clearly express your intent, in the broad sense of the word. Quickly and convincingly, you communicate your goals and values, and when you do so, people who resonate to your intent will respond. If someone responds positively and you are able to establish a Networlding relationship, you can reap tremendous benefits. Your new partner will not only do more for you in terms of opportunities but also in providing an empathetic ear and a source of fresh ideas.”
In today’s interconnected world, people can initiate relationships in chat rooms that blossom into ‘real world’ partnerships and an electronic exchange can lead to a face-to-face meeting. Conversely, relationships that begin in the real world can deepen through electronic dialogue. Whether we are working online or offline, it is clear that we need to move beyond simple networking.
Networlding provides a proven way to harness the power of social networking to accelerate results and achieve professional and personal success. And in the words of Zig Zigler, the world-renowned salesman and motivational speaker, you are not only doing the right things but doing things right.
We are delighted to welcome Melissa to the UK to share her seven-step process at an exclusive UK Networlding Bootcamp in October 2010. Find out more at http://www.macintnetworlding.com/ or join the discussion on the Networlding Europe LinkedIn group at http://budurl.com/NetworldingEurope1.