Networking is a process beginning with six basic steps.
Before we can go beyond networking, we need to learn to turn those steps into interactions, by adding the crucial extra touches that have the power to propel networkers “into the beyond.”
In an earlier blog post I suggested taking Step 1, which is meeting someone for the first time, and turning it into an interaction through focused, other-directed listening, using the three magic words “Tell Me More!”
For Step 2, the followup e-mail, I talked about creating interaction through sharing a special news item or piece of information relating specifically to the contact’s work or personal life.
For networking Step 3, arranging a meeting, I suggested interaction through formulating a specific idea you think can benefit you both and conveying your excitement about that in the e-mail.
Networking Step 4 involves the actual meeting with the person. It’s exactly at this point in the process that you and your new networking “buddy” come to the proverbial “fork in the road.”
You might lapse into traditional networking mode. In that mode, each of you understands that you’re coming together to achieve your individual goals.
Each of you offers leads, perhaps even referrals to the other. Each gains more information about the other’s target market and way of operating, but when all is said and done, no real connection has been created.
Alternately, you can choose to move beyond networking into NetBeing.
This is where you truly begin to interact, as you and your new business friend discover and reach towards collaborative goals, goals that you both understand could not possibly be achieved by either without the other. You will then have gone beyond networking to create a synergy where the result is more than the sum of the parts.
Step 5 in traditional networking involves thanking your new networking friend for taking the time to meet with you.
Step 6 consists of staying in touch. With today’s technology, there are more ways to stay in touch than ever before – we’ve got online thank you notes, videos on our websites, cell phones, text messaging, and chat rooms, any or all of which could be used for networking steps 5 and 6.
Going beyond networking doesn’t mean ignoring all the wonderful technology at our disposal. What it does mean is finding a way, in every communication, to go deeper, to be more personalized, to create interaction.
Nowadays we have powerful binoculars that help us see so much more, powerful amplifiers to help us hear from further away, but it’s still up to us to notice, and to give importance to the precious things we’re seeing and hearing from other human beings.
Turning the six steps of traditional networking into The Magic of Six Interactions means getting personal!