Early on in my career my supervisor told me to go “get famous”. Her intention was for me to network, to meet people, and get involved.
What happened was I found my tribe, truly learning about the community.
I learned about its needs and the importance of being engaged in what you are passionate about.
What Matters Most
When you are meeting people, be genuine with your intent. Your audience is of the utmost importance. Whether you are going to a business networking event or meeting a new contact for coffee, be helpful. Help them solve a problem. Listen to them. If they are new to the area, learn about what are they interested in or what do they do. Help them connect and engage with the community. Be a resource and always follow through with what you say you will do.
Ask Good Questions
Just the other night, a dear friend asked me, “How is the family?” Instead of answering with a canned answer like, “we are busy,” I dug deeper and shared more.
People genuinely care, but know your audience, and beware of over-sharing. Be respectful and focus on making your questions just as meaningful as your responses. Instead of asking a vague and standard question like, “How are you?” try asking, “What good has happened to you this week?” Or, “What was the best part of your day today?” Specific questions will increase your understanding of your audience. Authenticity!
Networking takes time Being authentic with your intent gives you credibility with everyone you meet. People network for a variety of reasons: finding a mentor, looking for a job, advocating for a cause, seeking a solution to a problem, to name a few. Ultimately, if you want results, the network can’t just be built. It also has to be nurtured. The more you give, the more you get. I will forever be grateful to the supervisor who encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone and meet new people. I integrated into my community and found my tribe, all through my network.