I absolutely hate networking events. I guess there is nothing in the business world that makes me feel more uncomfortable and insecure than a venue packed with people that I either don’t know, don’t really want to get to know or that I don’t know what to talk about. It kills me.
This usually (in my case) results in shallow discussions about stuff that no one really cares about because we would rather spend some time with our loved ones.
In almost all of these cases I use these types of events to just get back in touch with people that I already knew before going there (whom I could also have met for lunch or dinner anyways).
I could have stayed at home and read a good book instead, sip on my green tea and snuggle up in my blanket. It might just be me and maybe I just suck as networker. I don’t know.
This is rather unfortunate because we are missing out on numerous big opportunities that most of these networking events present right in front of us. I always tell myself that simply giving up on the entire networking thing doesn’t make any sense either.
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I read a lot of books, blogs and have talked to a lot of interesting people. Unfortunately, the single most important advice that I can extract from all of these sources usually boils down to this one simple thing:
“Without a proper network of people that love you and the stuff you’re doing you won’t be able to get anywhere in life.”
Damn it. That’s exactly the stuff I didn’t want to hear. So I had to find another strategy to manage this entire networking thing. Now who is the single most brilliant networker on this planet earth?
There are hundreds of books and blogs out there that want to introduce us to the world of super networkers. Apparently there are” 7 Key Habits of Super Networkers” (wow I just googled “what successful networkers do” and that’s what I got).
But the thing is that the best networker out there isn’t human. It’s an algorithm. It’s the algorithm that Google uses. Google isn’t just a search engine.
It’s the single most important entity on this planet earth you can ever be introduced to if you want to get your word out there (which is pretty much the essence of networking).
If you, your website or your business isn’t connected to Google you won’t be introduced to any potential clients, partners or investors. If your network consists of only one person that person should be Google. And you’d better become friends with it.
But how does Google do it? Simply put, it is the most resourceful thing out there. It knows everything about you, your business or your service (it actually doesn’t know it per se, it just knows where to find the information).
When people are searching for a solution to their problem they go to Google, because they know Google did a background check on everyone and will only introduce us to the single most valuable information (except paid content).
Google is the only true super connecter/networker out there. It’s the source for everything. Even though it doesn’t know anything itself (it just scans stuff and then sends you there) it knows everyone and can introduce you to everyone.
Now how can one apply Google’s strategy to our own little networking strategy? Here’s what made the most sense to me, what worked best for me and what I am trying to live by every day:
I don’t go to any networking events anymore where I don’t know exactly who will be attending. If I don’t know who will be attending I won’t be able to collect any background information about them upfront.
I won’t have anything to talk about with them; I don’t know what they do and how I could maybe help them out (in case they are looking for help). Meaningless conversations.
I know this sounds stupid and stalker-ish, but here is why this makes so much sense. If I know who will attend an event I can already try to connect the dots between my already existing network and the attendees upfront.
This way I can already make an introduction to someone valuable the first time I meet them. And that’s what networking is all about. It’s about being able to provide some value to the other party, right?
And that’s exactly what Google does. It knows exactly where to send you once you need its help. It doesn’t know anything per se, but it knows where you will be able to get that information. It’s the source for everything.
But even more importantly, getting to know the attendees upfront, what they do, what they love, etc. will allow us to connect with them on a personal level a lot easier.
This is even more important than connecting any dots out there. It’s making sure that all involved parties will have more meaningful conversations instead of some unimportant BS conversations.
Being able to connect on a personal level tremendously helps to judge whether or not any introduction will lead to a successful interaction (in the case of Google, a user that’s happy about the information Google provided).
So in case you don't want to waste your time networking anymore, simply stop attending these events. In case you absolutely need to go there try to be more like Google...