EBACE is coming up, and so are a variety of other conferences. Are you going to an aviation event for networking. You meet lots of people who you already knew and some new kids on the bloc. A bit of chit-chat, a bit of gossip and some exchange of business cards to ensure that you have the proper coordinates. That is not networking.
It doesn’t take an old gold digger to point out that it makes no sense to look for the precious metal on territory that is already claimed. The gold digger will also tell you that you will have to wash a lot of dirt in your pan to find a nugget. Yet, there are some who believe that the gold vein is found right under the surface, and it needs no more than a toothbrush to wipe away some soil. If you wish to hold on to that believe you are neither a gold miner nor a networker, you are a wiping wimpy. And even if I convinced you by now that you actually have to do a considerable amount gold panning to find some blinking nuggets, you should still know that nowadays gold panning is often marketed as tourist attraction on former gold fields.
If you have a serious concern that requires special attention and persuasion, who would you rather send? Your sales or marketing person to handle it, or a lobbyist? On a discovery expedition, do you send a trooper or a scout? Silly examples? I don’t think so! Just like a lobbying and scouting, networking is a specialized activity. The networker does not take a business card at face value, so to say, but makes an attempt to go beyond the person who handed it out. The scout’s mission is not to look at the trees of a forest, he’s sent out to see who or what is hiding behind the trees. To network one cannot just say “nice to meet you, please tell me who do you know that I may be interested in to know?”
A Network Marketer is like a spy agent on a special mission and has an arsenal of fact finding methods and charms to connect. A Network Marketer has the attitude to go where no one went before because that is where new markets, clients or partners may be found that were not approached yet by competitors.
One of the secrets of creating a network is to build it before you need it. Why? Simply because one can recognize the difference between an act of desperation and the attempt to create a relationship. In others words, building a network shortly after starting a company or introducing a new service is likely to be perceived as advertising and who wants to be approached and feel like being a part of a promotional campaign?
What if you don’t have a network yet? You may be able to acquire a network and I don’t mean buying a database or borrowing someone’s contact list, but by getting a person on board with an appropriate existing network to his avail. A network is as valuable as goodwill, but also just as intangible, yet it does have considerable value.
There is a belief about networking, that non-visibility is a fate worse than failure and therefore one should never ever disappear from the scene. Oh boy, do I know a lot of people who fit in that category. Often, they can repel more effectively than a scarecrow. They’re like ambulance chasers who never miss an opportunity to pass on their business card of their lawyer’s practice to someone on its way to the hospital. It has a sense of superficiality that has nothing to do with good networking.
Good networking is the ability to have a conversation on a wide range of topics with anyone from any background and then to leave that conversation with a lasting connection of some sort. A good networker has the anchor capabilities to bridge gaps and to establish new relationships that unlikely would have happened without the efforts of that Network Marketer. Don’t underestimate a professional networker; he or she can be the center of influence.
Maybe it isn’t such a good idea to go to any conference or exhibition if you don’t find out anything new. Possibly the event is too much geared to formality in the conversations and discussions. Is the event too much about expectations to catch prey? Perhaps practices on how to find new clients or to make new contacts should be redefined. In the meantime, networking threatens to become a trendy expression, yet same film - different title.
So, if you think that networking is like gold mining or that an aviation conference or exhibition resembles a goldmine let me confuse you a bit. The largest producing gold mine in the world in West Irian, Indonesia is primarily a copper mine. Also, in large copper mines in Utah, USA considerable amounts of gold are recovered. What does that teach us? If you are searching for the elite you may not necessarily have to mingle with the elite! And as for where you try to build a network, if it is a psychic network, why would you want to hand out business cards?
One of the basics of networking is that informal conversation is probably the oldest mechanism by which opinions on products and brands are developed, expressed, and spread. In modern social networking it has been proven that people are feeling more comfortable about sharing more information and doing so more openly. Conferences and exhibitions will need to follow that trend.
The importance of networking is increasing, but when it comes to practicing it, one sees a lot of clumsiness and misconceptions as if it was the first time of practicing juggling with three balls. A changing society, changing technologies, and changing dynamics of doing business may require different practices. How about Network Marketer training? How about a Master’s Degree in networking?
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