One of the things that was a major concern for me in starting my own business was my ability to effectively network. I knew it was important and had heard countless others extol the virtues of doing it, but having had relatively little experience of this through my roles in corporate life, I seriously doubted my ability to exercise this properly and consequently worried about the success of my own business as a result.
My initial attempts at networking did little more than confirm my suspicions since I frequently felt awkward and out of place worrying about how I could engineer discussions that might lead to my gaining new work. However, over time I began to realise that effective networking is not a question of what you can personally gain from engaging in it, but how much you can personally bring to assist those that you meet. This perspective completely turned around my approach to networking in general as I started to appreciate that the whole point is not what you can get out but what you can put in.
I am not talking here about simply changing the goalposts so that you gain work under the guise of trying to assist others, I really mean genuinely trying to see how you might be able to solve another person’s issue through either your own goods and/or services or using your own network of contacts to find others that can help instead. With this approach, networking not only becomes easier, it becomes an actual delight to do since the personal sense of satisfaction gained from assisting others is a very powerful driver. Moreover, the Buddhist notion of karma invariably applies in which doing good things does plant positive seeds that often come back in unexpectedly positive ways.
So when you next get an opportunity to engage in a networking event, grasp the opportunity even if you don’t think you would be good at it, try it!
Ian Ash, AInstIB
Managing Director, OrgMent Business Solutions