The Biggest Mistake People Make When Networking

by | Feb 5, 2020 | Entrepreneurship, Social Impact

With starting a podcast a few months ago, and being only several months into running Methodic Content, networking is something I’m doing A LOT. And I’ve noticed one big mistake that I see almost everyone making.

Most people have no idea how others can help them.

Beginning networkers have even bigger problems than this because they usually just want to meet people to tell them what they do.

At least advanced networkers, particular people in the social impact space who are very good at connecting, take it a step further and understand that to network well you need to offer value to others.

But in almost every case, if I ask someone how I could help support their work, I’m faced with a blank stare. (Let’s assume for a second that it’s not because I’m useless and socially awkward! :P)

With this question I’m not saying I want to do marketing for them. It’s not a sales pitch, but rather an offer to connect them with people, help share or promote their work, or offer advice and resources.

Why Don’t You Know How People Can Help You?

I’m going to speculate, because I don’t have any facts here. There’s likely two reasons for this

  • You haven’t actually planned your business goals and trajectory (ie, you’re not doing anything interesting), or
  • You just haven’t consciously thought about why you’re networking

If you’re lacking in business direction and “do you know anyone who would be great clients?” is your only option then you can go for that, but it’s not very specific.

This might mean it’s time to sit down and really strategize about your business. Why do you exist? What are your goals? (other than $$ of course). What projects can you start that will grow your impact and grow your business?

If you do have clear goals, think about which ones a random stranger could help with.

Either way, try to play it to the lowest common denominator. Questions like this is not likely going to get you a nod, “I need help configuring the SQL server in my closet to use the API in conjunction with our front end React Bubblegum machine, do you know how to do that?”

Why You Need to Know How People Can Help You

You might think, but I don’t want to seem needy. I want to help others (very admirable, yes).

However, If you truly believe in your product or service, that the change you seek to make in the world is valuable, others will too. If someone offers you help, particularly in our circles, it’s genuine excitement for what you’re doing.

At this point having something to ask of people is what would HELP build that relationship, while also helping you. It gives you both something specific to follow up on later, to get to know each other more and provide more value.

Always Have Something Anyone Can Help You With

So the moral of the story, wherever you go, have something you can ask of people. If you have this in your back pocket, conversations will go deeper, likely last long-after that initial connection, and you might actually get some help with growing your business.

Here are a few ideas of how general these asks should be:

  • Our team is building blank, do you know anyone who has experience doing that before it?
  • I’m launching a blank, and would love if you could share with your friends online, can I send you a link?
  • We’re creating a new podcast series and I’m looking for interviewees like…
  • I just moved here, do you know of any other events around social impact in the area?
  • I’m trying to do blank, can you recommend any good books or resources?
  • This blank is a new thing for us, and would love your feedback?

You get joy from helping others, right? Let others feel that joy too, by having something they can help you with.

Happy networking!

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