What do the 4th of July and Networking have in common?

Well 1st, the obvious; generally you get together with people in both scenarios.  I think that would be the #1 answer on the game show Family Feud if asked the question “What do networking and the 4th of July have in common” [Queue Steve Harvey]

I think that there is so much more in common though.  Let’s take a look!

A gathering place

For many years I have seen, hosted, and been invited to many 4th of July parties at people homes, community locations, and national monuments!  The 4th of July tends to be a time where people like to gather at a common place. The same goes for networking events. When you attend an event of some type, the goal of the organizer was to establish a location by which others would want to come to and gather for a similar purpose. Which bring me to…

A shared goal

On the 4th of July the goal is to celebrate. Whether it’s with friends, family, strangers, like minded celebratory humans, whomever, the goal is to celebrate America’s birthday.  At networking events, the goal is to meet new people! No one shows up at a networking event to administer flu shots! They show up to meet new faces, to see old faces and to reconnect with others they may have met before.  The goals are shared by the attendees, regardless of it being the same people at a 4th of July party or a networking event.

However…here is where we might go wrong….

Caring….

At 4th of July parties, I see it.  I see the camaraderie among friends where the conversation flows around what others are up to these days, how the family is and how life is going.  I see hugs, smiles, laughter, and just downright relaxation and friendliness. I don’t always see this at a networking event. In fact many times I see the opposite.  At the 4th of July party, I see lots of questions being asked, at a networking event, I see a lot of “me, I, us”. To increase the effectiveness of our networking events we need to care more about those at the event than ourselves.  Our time will come!

Listening

Another thing present at 4th of July parties is listening.  I see friends and families listening to others. Perhaps that is because the talking by others includes updates on their lives, but more importantly it includes stories.  Stories captivate us. I’m no expert in stories, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night (just kidding). I know a number of great storytellers in the speaking world and story teachers, but what I do know is that stories make us want to listen more.  Great stories keep us captivated. When you are in a networking event, listen for the story from the person you are speaking with, then ask questions about that story, and get more detail! YOu will be extremely surprised what you will learn…[cue transition]

Surprise

Which bounces me right into Surprise.  At 4th of July events, you get surprise by those who pop in that you didn’t expect you to see, or those you haven’t seen in years.  Where surprise comes in networking is in 2 ways, the first is in the stories that others tell you. The outcomes may not be what you expected. The 2nd way surprise shows up is in the details. You learn a great more about someone when they are sharing stories and talking to you.  As frustrating as it might be to want to talk and get your message out, just resist that. It will get better over time, it’s a muscle, that resistance. However as you continue to listen the details will surprise you and you will end up with golden nuggets of information after the conversation is completed!

Non self serving acts

The other thing often missing from networking but present in 4th of July parties is non-self serving acts.  At the parties, people do things for others all the time. They get them another drink, they throw away their trash on the way to the trash can, and they hold the door for others.  Now I’m not saying those things don’t happen at networking events, but they do happen less…and I’ve seen it for myself! At networking events the best way to allow non-self serving acts to ask them 2 questions. The 1st is “Who is someone ideal that you are looking to connect with tonight or next week, I might know someone?”. The 2nd is “One of my favorite business books is “X”, have you ever read that book?” What you do with this information is upto you, but I suggest that you attempt to connect them to someone they mentioned in their response to question 1 and depending on the response to question 2, you buy them the book, write a note in it, and ship it to them.

If you begin to show more care at networking events, the type and level of care that you show at 4th of July parties, you will really start to bear fruit from your relationships and you will grow your word of mouth referrals.  That’s how I did it early on!

Happy Post 4th of July…Enjoy the remainder of the year, you’ve got 6 months to make an impact on your contacts and your business until the new year is here!