It happens to all of us – sometimes we’re so self-absorbed we become unaware of what’s going on around us. If that’s a temporary state of affairs, there’s nothing wrong with it. But if it’s a systematic methodology, well, that presents problems for effective networking.
In a café the other day, the other latte sippers were merrily engrossed in their conversations when a severely disabled fellow with two crutches entered. I noticed him looking around intently and it didn’t immediately dawn on me why he was scanning so carefully. But he stood just inside the door and continued to stare. Well this is interesting, I thought. What’s going on here?
Slowly, he began to make his way between the tables and chairs and sippers ignorant of his difficulties. These were all fairly closely positioned and, of course, he began to struggle. Now, I’m not a hero but when you see that, you’ve got to do something, right? So I got up and moved a couple of chairs and tables and requested that a couple patrons move in while he made his way. He was appreciative and I felt good for having helped. Anyway, as I returned to my coffee the reason for his initial studious viewing of the café came to me – he was problem solving. He was searching for the easiest path to a vacant table. But this only came to me by taking the time to see the world through his eyes.
Some people think networking is a dirty word. They think it’s schmoozing and trying to gain advantage by being a slick operator and smarmy. Well, I can tell you from experience, people who network in this manner may be effective networkers for a short time but pretty soon people will see through them and their effective networking days will be numbered. Me? I think of networking as seeking opportunities to help people and the best way to quickly become aware of these opportunities is to view the world through their eyes. Then I ask myself, what problems does this person need help with?
One of the biggest hurdles routinely encountered by BNI members is regularly generating referrals. By being in a helpful state of mind when you’re out networking you will notice referral opportunities become more easily identifiable. This is because wanting to be helpful keeps you present to the problems of others. Additionally, engaging in a steady series of One-on-Ones is an excellent strategy for discovering the problems your fellow chapter members are able to solve. So, when you are out networking and encounter people who have such problems you are in a position to simply marry the problem with the solution. Hey presto – that’s a referral!
So get out there and get networking. Don’t be self-absorbed, view the world through the eyes of the person you’re talking to, see their problems and introduce them to your fellow chapter members whom you know can solve them. And the referrals? Well they’ll just happen.
Best of all though? Not only is this state of mind quite likely to generate business for you and present referral opportunities, it’s also highly probable to leave you with the best pay off of all – feeling good for having helped.