We hear it all the time, “network, network, network.” But in my attempts to network, I often end up talking to anyone and everyone about nothing particularly important. I find myself pondering the purpose of these trivial conversations. How do we find the “right” people to network with? And how do we make these connections useful?
Instead of focusing on networking, try connecting. Networking is a means to an end while connecting goes much deeper and can be more beneficial in the long run. Connectors build relationships and take an interest in helping each other out. Connecters are the people who seem to know everyone (and if they don’t personally know someone, they ALWAYS know someone who does.)
How to bridge the gap between being a networker and becoming a connector:
Step outside of your comfort zone and find new people, ideas and connections. Who knows what brilliant ideas may surface?
Reach out to someone you don’t know! When it comes to introductions, everyone is awkward. So recognize the awkwardness, embrace it, and push through it.
Diversify your interests and find people who have similar hobbies and passions. You never know who you could meet at bowling league or a new book club.
Connections are long term and there may not be an immediate payback if you help someone out. Keep in contact; your connections will help you out down the line.
A conscious effort to connect with the people around you will be infinitely more helpful than small talk about the cheese platter at your next networking event. So “connect, connect, connect,” and soon you will be the person who seems to know everyone!