Networking and relationship building always has been, and will always be, critical to success in business.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, we have to tackle the biggest fundamental problem in how people network and the number one factor in their success. Now, let us be clear, it is not all about Facebook or iPhones, the socialisation of business, the connected customer, or the spread of ideas through social networks (although they do play a part – these things are unavoidable in this day and age).
It has everything to do with the mindset you approach networking with, and it is 100% within your control to change – today.
The harsh truth is that so few people network well and that is because they approach it with the wrong mindset.
There are three prevalent ideas that are pervasive in the negative mindset of networking in the business world:
- Wanting something without putting the effort in – a lazy approach to networking
- Always approaching networking with the intention of getting something for yourself – this can take the guise of the person who relentlessly sells at you at an event or even the person who only ever engages their wider network when they need something.
- Scarcity/protective mindset about their connections and their network— this could mean holding your connections very close to your chest, and being exclusive about who gets to join your network.
Nobody is perfect and nobody is terrible, but if you are honest with yourself you will likely recognise at least one of these these types of thinking in some of your actions in the past.
So how do we go about changing this?
Let’s start by talking about the importance of a little G&T in networking…
…Sorry to disappoint but I’m talking about Giving & Taking.
In his book Give and Take, Adam Grant’s research highlights:
“According to conventional wisdom, highly successful people have three things in common: motivation, ability, and opportunity. If we want to succeed, we need a combination of hard work, talent, and luck. [But there is] a fourth ingredient, one that’s critical but often neglected: success depends heavily on how we approach our interactions with other people.”
Adam goes on to describe three characteristics that define how people interact with others. While the distinction between the three are more fluid than set in stone, this simple framework sits at the core of the three negative mindsets:
Takers simply see the world as a competitive place. To a taker, life is a ruthless game where you take everything you want, helping others only if the personal benefit of doing so outweighs the cost.
Unfortunately, this is far too common in the recruitment industry.
Givers are driven by the desire to help others and create success for the group. The keystone trait of the giver is that in most transactions they give far more than they get.
In the book, Adam gives the examples of George Meyer, Emmy Award-winning writer for The Simpsons, is a classic example of a giver. Meyer routinely encouraged other writers to use his ideas without asking for personal credit. So, although he helped shape over 300 episodes of The Simpsons, he is only credited for 12. Nevertheless, what mattered more to him than keeping count of personal credit was seeing the show succeed.
It is amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.
Harry S. Truman
Somewhere in between givers and takers, matchers strive for equal, fair exchanges with others. The matcher’s goal in their negotiations is being fair and equitable to all parties, not just one. How much we give or take is shaped by who we interact with.
In addition to group pressure, another factor affecting our generosity is how much of ourselves we see in the other person: the more similar he or she is, the more likely we are to give.
A change here can result in significant improvements in the quality and depth of your relationships.
The shift from Taker to Giver
Many believe that when it comes to achieving professional success, taking is more effective than giving. This is particularly true in traditionally cutthroat professions like business and politics. Interestingly though, it turns out givers often succeed in such environments, as their interest in helping others benefits them too.
Givers, takers, and matchers all can — and do — achieve success. But there’s something distinctive that happens when givers succeed: it spreads and cascades. Successful givers cultivate and use their vast networks to benefit others as well as themselves. Givers see potential in everyone they meet, making them formidable at finding and nurturing talent.
The first step in developing a successful networking strategy is to take an honest look at your actions and to start to make a shift to being more of a giver.
I challenge you to become more of a giver
It might sound a bit fluffy, but I believe that for the greater good, we need a few more givers in this world! I set you the challenge of helping anyone out who asks for it if it takes less than 5 minutes to do so, without expectation and without thinking about it. I can guarantee that it’ll be a positive experience.