When you are up to your neck in business and personal affairs, networking can seem like an extraneous, pointless activity. Why go out of your way to meet new people when you know most of them will never become customers – and you’re already too busy to properly serve all the people you know and love?
The answer is: the right people will surprise and re-energize you.
So what if most of them will not buy from you? You already have (or should have) a marketing program designed to reach potential prospects. Networking is about nourishing your soul. It’s about breaking out of your solitude and your rut, and connecting with brilliant minds doing cool things. Their stories of purpose and achievement will inspire you, and their activities and new perspectives will trigger new ideas for refreshing your business and doing things differently.
It's an effort to take the initiative and talk to new people. And it’s getting even harder now, as people hide behind their phones in public places, masking their solitude with the appearance of activity and connection.
But every time I connect, it pays off. At a recent conference of social entrepreneurs, in Oxford, England, I met so many amazing people: purposeful investors, creative social activists, students searching for their place, a startup phone manufacturer from Peru, a guy with a 100-year-old one-sheet printing press. a French-Italian entrepreneur working in Finland to help home-based businesses in rural Africa. So many perspectives, so many stories, so much passion and energy!
When you open up to other people, your world gets bigger. New possibilities excite you. Hearing other people’s challenges reminds you that you don't have it so tough. Making arrangements to follow up with Skype calls and Zoom meetings ensures that these lessons and this energy aren’t lost.
And every time you talk about your own story you get better at it. You find new, better ways to describe your mission and engage other people. Contrary to popular belief, networking isn’t marketing – it’s personal development.
Tired? Looking for inspiration? Get out and meet new people. Talk less, listen more. Follow up with those who make you smile.Although I do a lot of speaking on #networking, I'm really very shy. At #SkollWF, I've willed myself to talk to strangers. And every time I've been rewarded by meeting exciting people, hearing great stories, and making amazing connections.— Rick Spence (@rickspence) April 11, 2019
Every person is an adventure.#JustSayHi
You'll never regret it.