I strongly dislike the notion of going to networking events with a stack of business cards and the courage to shake hands with people in the hopes of being able to capitalize on these newly made connections for your growth. Employment of such technique is classic parasitical networking characterized by wishful thinking and transactional behaviour. It tarnishes the essence of "networking" (read as "adding net value to others").
Practice to become a value adder. Be generous with your time, sincerity, skills and knowledge. Walk into a conference with the primary objective of being an unconditional giver. When you walk out, you wouldn't need fancy business cards to be remembered by. A pure intent and sincere attempt to help others in realizing their goals will help you cultivate a network where every single connection will try everything in their power to not let you fail.
You might think being a giver in a highly competitive world would be a stupid thing to do. I beg to differ. Selfish takers build unsustainable fame whereas big-hearted givers build a solid mountain of reputation, connections and accomplishments. Do you think Dale Carnegie was successful? Would you say Keith Ferrazzi and Reid Hoffman are successful? If yes, lets pursue the Adam Grant way of networking.
Tyler Wagner is one of the first few names that pop up in my mind when I think of people who truly live and breath the essence of networking conferences. His ideas and actionable tips on giving are the foundation of building a strong network. To give without expectation. To love unconditionally.
Tyler believes networking is simple. It is the art of helping as many people as you possibly can. The ways it can be done are endless. From a handshake to a handwritten thank you letter. Each moment, you have a choice to make. What I admire about Tyler is how he asks " will you make the people around you happier about the fact that they are around you? " The answer to this question holds the key to value-driven, service-based networking.
As Jim Carrey once said, "The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is." When you make others lives better, your life gets better. Keep putting a smile on others and you shall also smile. Tyler teaches you how to effectively achieve this in your daily life as well as at conferences, specifically, in his book "Conference Crushing". I highly recommend you to give it a couple reads in order to absorb every single word of it.
After I reached out to Tyler to tell him how his approach to networking events deeply resonates with my philosophy of value-driven, service-based networking, he got back to me asking me to jump on a call with him. During our conversation, he got genuinely interested in my life. Despite the fact that the original intention behind the call was just to be appreciative of one another's work, we ended the conversation with him agreeing to become a contributor for my upcoming book on the theme of relationship building. I had never imagined I would find myself in a situation to have Tyler as a part of my latest project. I instantly found in Tyler a mentor and a friend.
People pick up your good intentions instantly. Always assume the other person to be a better judge of character and twice as smart as you are.
Let change our mindsets.
Lets look as networking events as a vehicle for building relationships that last a lifetime.