Startup Savvy: The Network Part 2
So in part 1 of this blog series, we talked about networking and its widely misunderstood purpose. We’ll recap a little bit of what we talked about, and then we’ll get into how to make a mindset change and get networking in a really good way.
Refresher: Our definition of networking can fit simply in the following sentence. Networking is the art and skill of developing meaningful, real, and lasting relationships. Now we are under the impression that many people don’t necessarily think of networking in this way. Sometimes it becomes the way for people to find people from whom they need lots of stuff. It becomes a “what can I get from this person?” game and becomes a leech-like activity. Which brings us to our next point in this refresher section—relationships. Our Biology flashback in part 1 taught us about mutualistic and parasitic relationships. Respectively, think win-win, and parasite. Mutualistic relationships are mutually beneficial; parasitic relationships are defined by one side taking resources from the other with little regard for the other side’s welfare.
So, this begs the question: How do I make my networking activities mutualistic? We have a couple pointers we think might just help with all you small business owners and startup founders looking for social media management, marketing, or anything else your business needs.
#1 What Can You Give?
We’ve all been in a spot where we feel like we can’t really offer much to the other side. This often makes networking difficult. However, we feel like there’s much more to offer than you think. Throwing aside your business and its competencies for a second, what can you individually add to a networking relationship? The obvious first answer is your own personal network. Maybe you’re talking with and clicking with an owner of a much more established company, and you wonder what your company and business can offer them. Well try to think more granularly and realize that you have a wide variety of personal relationship with people that may be able to help in your future connections—lawyers (for the legalities associated with becoming corporations or dealing with capitalization problems within the business), doctors (for personal problems or medical complications), business owners (that may have done what your new friend has been trying to do). Never underestimate the power of your own network or the things you’ve picked up along your way in life.
#2 There’s No “I” in Team
Pay attention to where your thoughts are focused during your networking activities. Are you focused on what you need from the person, what you want to tell them, the things you have going on? Or are you focused on who they are, their story, their successes and issues, and their needs? Relationships work a lot better when people are inclined to help and meet the needs of the other party. Pay attention to where your thoughts are and try to reach out and turn your thoughts away from yourself.
We’ll go over a few more tips in part 3 to help you make your networking powerful!