One conversational tweak that’ll make you a better networker

Great networkers are givers, not takers.  That’s a key insight to mastering the art of connection. 

Too often, when we think we are ‘networking’, we are actually trolling for assistance in one of our ventures.  We are screening people to see if they have use to us, and if we might possess currency we can trade for their assets.  It’s a quid-pro-quo approach, and to me, is just salesmanship. 

Networking occurs when you connect two or more people together that should meet – and then get out of the way! (BTW: If you expect something in return for your networking efforts, you are just a broker that’s peddline your network). 

So, here’s the best way to change from a Prospector or Broker into a real-live Networker of value: Stop asking people “What do you do?” Instead, ask them, “what are you doing these days that I might be able to help you with?” Resist all tempations to uncover potential value to you, and ignore their offers to pay it back. 

By focusing on what others are doing, dreaming about, trying to do, struggling through, etc., you shift your perspective from trading to contributing.  Dale Carnegie said it best: “You will win more friends and accomplish more in the next two months, developing a sincere interest in two people than you will ever accomplish in the next two years, desperately trying to get two people interested in you.”

The best networkers I’ve ever met, such as Keith Ferrazzi, spend 80% of their conversations probing to find out how he can add value through an introduction.  80%.  He’s relentless when he asks, “what are you enthused about these days,” and as a result, has the unique opportunity to enrich hundreds or thousands of lives per year.  

For more, read Masters Of Networking by Ivan Misner.