Newsflash: Networking Has Gotten a Bum Rap

by Dean Lindsay

The term "networking" has gotten a bum rap. I consistently ask professionals who come to workshops and speeches based on my book, Cracking the Networking CODE, to share with me what they think of when they hear the word networking. Far too often, they say it conjures up images of manipulative, self-serving, insincere and predatory individuals who are on the prowl for someone they can pounce on, try to sell something to, or solicit an unearned favor from.

I wish I could say this style of networking wasn't out there, but it is, and it is a waste of time for ineffective networkers and the unfortunate people they corner. True networking is not about arm-twisting. It is not about trying to get someone to do something that does not make sense for them to do. It is not about scary old backslapping sales shenanigans.

There is a big difference between meeting someone and building a priceless business relationship with them. Networking is not about chance meetings. Even if your Blackberry or ACT database system is bursting with names, numbers and email addresses, it will not do you a bit of good unless you build the relationships. There is a long way from "Met to Net."

So, how do you build priceless business relationships through networking? This is an important question to consider because, to a large degree, who we know and associate with determines who we become in life. The most successful, well-rounded and happy people are most often the ones who are best connected to other successful, well-rounded and happy people. When these people need support or information, they know who to call.

How well-connected you are determines your access to those with the most money, the best contacts, the real power and influence (not to mention the best seats at sporting events). Being connected to the right people opens up opportunities for you and your company.

To build great relationships, you need to help others be successful. You need to help them progress. Everyone connects with others with the goal of progressing in some way. To build priceless business relationships, you need to be seen as an agent for their progress, a catalyst for them to take a positive step forward. They need to feel that you make a positive impact on their life, that you bring value.

The people we meet must view being around us as progress, not change. It is natural to resist change, but we embrace progress. Building a relationship with us must be viewed as progress if we hope others will choose to alter their lives to include us.

It helps to think of networking as a creative process: You are creating ways to serve and to help people progress. You progress when you help others progress. To build priceless business relationships and become a truly effective networker, you constantly need to search out ways to help others progress. You must position yourself in their minds as a catalyst in their progress, as an agent in their progress, as a Progress Agent.

In the Cracking the Networking CODE webinar, I will introduce you to a proven four-step process for successfully traveling the road from "Met to Net" and building priceless business relationships. I hope you can join in.

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