Recently I made a commitment to myself that I would network more. Usually I am very focused on strengthening and improving the relationships I already have but this month is different. My goal is to attend 3 networking or industry events a week. Time is already a precious commodity so it won’t be easy but I think it will be very useful.
My reasoning behind this new push is that I have come to the realization that the more people I meet, the more people I get to talk to, which means the more I can learn. Most of the time this interaction is mutually beneficial to both parties. It is very powerful to bring 50-100 like-minded individuals into a room and let them interact. Stories are shared, relationships are built, contacts made, and sometimes even business deals are struck.
Everyone knows that networking can help but I have one pet peeve when I go to these events. There is always one guy or girl who wants to meet everyone, ask a million questions and then keep his ideas/startup/plans a secret as if the world would end if they told you. Everyone has run into this person. They are either not confident in their ideas or think that everyone is out to steal them. Guess what? Everyone else (and I) are too damn busy to worry about stealing your idea! Plus how do you expect people to use your product or service if no one knows about it?
Collaboration and sharing are essential to innovation so this should be a requirement if you want to frequent these events and functions. Many times I have told people projects I am working on and they get an idea on how to improve their endeavor and vice versa. At the end of the day we are all responsible for the success of our society and it is important that we work together. We are much more powerful that way.
Okay so now that my rant is calming down, here is my main point. Network, network, network, and make sure you are open to sharing with others. Hold yourself accountable by setting a goal of attending a certain number of events or meeting a certain number of people. Once you have these new contacts then you can work on strengthening them. Remember that you never know who you will run into later in life….and they may be the perfect person for your next project!
Shameless Plug: A good friend of mine, Nancy Nguyen, has written a great book (The Networking Diary) about networking. Her 7 principles are helping numerous individuals to expand their networks and make meaningful connections. You can buy her book here!