Forget Networking Tips and Start To Think Different

Like-Minded People If you’re like a lot of people, you either don’t like to network, or know people who don’t like to network. Or, maybe it’s both. I’m thinking about this because I’ve just watched a video on networking tips. While the expert’s tips were actually good, her first point was this: “Regardless of experience or position, many people loathe networking.” Sorry, but my most immediate association upon hearing those words was to an old Lisa Barone post, It’s Not the Recession, You Just Suck.

Harsh. I know.

A Logic of Desperation

Frankly, there is a certain logic that sustains resistance to networking. After all, nearly everyone says they dread it. So, you can say you dread it too. With that out of the way, there isn’t a whole lot that anyone, including you, should expect.  And when you find that you have to network, you can always brush up with a couple of networking tips, attend events, and hope for the best.

Unfortunately, pressure to network typically leads to an approach that’s one sided, agenda driven – and often desperate. Although you may not want to believe it, most people you meet under these circumstances see that. So, you risk alienating them. Worse, when you don’t get the results you were hoping for, you whine about networking being loathsome. [Tweet this] It’s a vicious circle. Worse, it keeps you chained to beliefs that keep your expectations low.

Think Different

As I see it, one of the biggest obstacles to putting yourself out there to meet new people is the mindset that’s attached to it. And very often that mindset – your mindset – is fed by the prevailing beliefs around you. If you like, you can continue to subscribe to them.

Or not.

Consider, for a moment, what our world would be like if Steve Jobs had not dared to think different. How would the world of technology have developed? What options would you have for how and where you create and consume content? And to what extent would you be able to find and seize new and exciting opportunities for work and life?

So, ask yourself this: How do you limit yourself by subscribing to prevailing beliefs? [Tweet this]

Take some time to consider this. Look for examples not only in what you believe about meeting new people, but also about what it takes to have a rewarding career, and a rich and meaningful life.  Do this honestly, and I think what you’ll see is this: The only one holding you back is you. [Tweet this]

Change The Frame

As I see it, “networking” is not the best frame. Rather, the best frame is “like-minded.” That is, meeting and developing relationships with like-minded people. Those like-minded people can enter your life via business events, but also via any of a range of activities where people come together around shared interests. When you’re open to meeting like-minded people, you have the chance to meet people who matter to your long-term success and well-being.

According to Wikipedia, “Business networking is a socioeconomic business activity by which groups of like-minded businesspeople recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities.”

If we strike a couple of words from this, then a simple truth emerges: There are lots of situations where like-minded people come together to create or act upon opportunities. [Tweet this] Here are a few examples:

  •  Arts Committees allow like-minded people to come together to create or act upon opportunities to promote the arts.
  •  Not-for-Profit Boards bring together like-minded people to create or act upon service opportunities.
  •  Online learning sites, like those offered by Chris Brogan, enable like-minded people create and act upon opportunities for self-improvement.
  •  CrossFit classes enable like-minded people come together to create or act upon fitness opportunities.

Now, ask yourself: What are the natural opportunities you have for meeting and getting to know others? [Tweet this] And in answering that, consider both in-person and online opportunities.

Take advantage of opportunities to get together with people who care about the same things you do, and before you know it, you’re part of a community. And being part of community brings opportunities for mutual support and mutual recognition.

Think about it.

As you do, consider the story of a guy who took last place in an athletic competition. Horribly overweight and out of shape, Greg was skeptical about trying CrossFit. He was concerned about his ability and what other people would think. And he didn’t want to be made fun of.

But he tried and stuck with it. In fact, he even rose to the challenge to compete in the CrossFit Open. Yes, he set low expectations for his performance, but he surpassed them. Yet, what really surprised him is the acceptance and encouragement he received. Here’s what he said:

“…I learned what community means. It is more than a collection of people… It is coaches and athletes. It is friends. It is people that care about your success. It is people that cheer where you are going more than where you are at today….”

So, who are you ready to cheer on, and who’s cheering for you? [Tweet this]

###

What are your perspectives on meeting people? What beliefs hold you back? How do you need to change your thinking?  What are some of the shared interests or activities that bring you together with like-minded people? Just leave a comment. I’d love to know.

Your Quest Is Your Story

Your QuestOkay, let’s face it. If I were to ask you to tell me about your quest, you’d probably give me a funny look and walk away. Well, unless you’re into online game experiences like MMORPG. But even then, we might quickly end up talking past each other.

What’s Your Story?

I bring up the idea of quest because I’ve been thinking about ways to help people tune into their personal stories. Despite the nearly incessant advice to tell your story, many people find it daunting. [Tweet this]

In fact, in recognizing the need to get story telling advice to more people, my friend Jeff, recently invited me to appear on The Next Step with Jeff Rock. He wanted to discuss several personal brand story telling tips I’d once blogged about, and to go into a little more depth. While you may want to listen to our radio chat, or read my original post, I wanted to offer you new perspective on story.

On some level, I suppose today’s emphasis on uncovering and telling your story can seem like so much hype. It seems trendy.  So, you may think emphasis on story will simply pass. Only it won’t: Because we live in story. [Tweet this]

Stories are at the very core of our humanity. Stories are how we make sense of the events of our lives. As Seth Godin points out, it’s the power of narrative that keeps our lives consistent and predictable. Or, we can harness that power to change our lives for the better!

Controlling Our Narrative

Godin notes that too often the stories we tell ourselves get in the way of more effectiveness and success. They create a comfort zone that holds us back. I think this is especially the case when we navigate life on autopilot. We lose control of our own narrative when we operate without self-knowledge. As a consequence, we fail to make choices that let us live in a way that’s personally meaningful and fulfilling.

Controlling our own narrative means shaping our own story. [Tweet this] And that requires having some sense of what we’re seeking in life. It helps us build on experiences that have significance to us, as well as direct our efforts toward achieving what we most want for ourselves. Ultimately, our narrative is about finding and achieving our own personal vision of success.

How Your Quest and Your Story Are Related

Our lives are filled with many ups and downs. We succeed. We fail. We trip and we get up. Yet, the reality is that while many things happen to us, only some experiences factor into our story. So, the question becomes how do we identify the experiences that fit into our narrative and move us forward toward success. [Tweet this]

[Read more…]