Networking doesn’t have to be a business-only type of interaction. Anywhere people gather is an opportunity to connect, converse, and build rapport. In fact, if you are open to it, any event and any occasion can become a networking opportunity.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to be constantly hustling or have some ulterior motive. With the right approach, anywhere there are people, there is an opportunity to have a conversation that could lead to a future relationship that just might benefit your career, your business, or your life. That’s the magic of networking.
That’s why “Always Be Connecting” is the sixth and final core principle of relationship-based networking. It’s the ABC of networking (not to be confused with the ABC of selling which is Always Be Closing).
I wrote about this idea in my book Networking Ahead 3rd Edition. See Chapter 24, entitled “Off Roading: Unusual Places to Network,” where I share real examples about making meaningful connections while on vacation, at funerals (celebrations of life), college reunions, and more.
I specially chose the image of a yoga class for this sixth and final blog in the series on relationship-based networking. There are two networking success stories that I want to highlight in this blog:
- My friendship and connection to Deb Orosz. Deb recently retired from United Technologies where she used her masters degree in Science and Management of Technology to lead innovative projects and diverse teams for more than a decade. She is also passionate about yoga and nutrition and healthy lifestyles. I met Deb at the YMCA about eight years ago when she was teaching yoga classes. The quality of her voice, her high level of instruction, and her gentle spirit made her stand out in my mind as an exceptionally gifted teacher. When she announced she was leaving the YMCA to open her own studio (now called Roots Yoga and Nutrition located in Tarriffville, Connecticut), I decided to follow her. What developed was a natural evolution from the student-teacher relationship to a friendship. Even now as we are living in different regions of the USA, we continue to stay in touch and to leverage our connection to benefit ourselves and others in our networks. The photo below was taken this Spring when I stopped by for a yoga class while on a business trip to Connecticut. I am so glad that I didn’t take a passive approach to yoga. Instead I approached it with a networking “Always Be Connecting” mindset. This allowed me to benefit from the spirit of community that is inherent in the practice of yoga, and the practice of being human.
- The recent marriage of Ron Demonet. I met Ron through my recent involvement with the Rotary Club of Greenville in South Carolina. Ron is the incoming President for the fiscal year 2018-2019. He is also the managing director of a nonprofit organization Veterans Scholarships Forever (from their web site: “The G.I. Bill provides education for many veterans, but not for all. Veteran Scholarships Forever fills the gap.”). You can read more about Ron and his work on his LinkedIn page.
As I am a new member of Rotary, Ron invited me to networking coffee so that we could get to know each other better. He also wanted to learn more about my specific interests in community service and past volunteering experience. I also benefited from ride-sharing with him to a Rotary meeting that was an hour away. That time in the car with Ron was worth its weight in gold. (Read my networking tip on the value of ridesharing.)
During the long drive to the meeting, I learned that Ron was recently married. When I asked him how he met his new wife Nancy, he told me that they met on a yoga mat. His mat next to her mat. An accidental yoga student, Ron tried yoga when nothing else would relief his severe back pain. Over time and with this shared interest, Ron and Nancy came to know and appreciate each other. Within a few years, they made the decision to get married. This photo was taken on their honeymoon in Switzerland.
I had to smile at this story of how Ron and Nancy met. It reminded me of the inscription in my book, Networking Ahead 3rd Edition which is dedicated to my husband. It reads: “To Byron, from blind date to loving husband, you are my favorite networking success story.” You see, Byron and I originally met through mutual friends. If you will, a facilitated introduction by people we both trusted and liked. We will be celebrating our 24th wedding anniversary this August.
Now I am not suggesting that networking replace eHarmony or Match.com or that you approach networking with the intention of finding your soul mate. What I am encouraging you to do is to practice your networking skills in yoga or any other type of physical fitness that you enjoy, or activity or hobby that you regularly partake in. These venues are natural environments for you to develop meaningful connections, even if you are an introvert.
Always Be Connecting is easy and simple. You just have to get your head out of your digital device and notice the people right in front of you. Then have the courage and gumption to say hello and start a conversation. That’s how it all begins.
Putting the Six Core Principles to Work in Your Networking Practice
I’ve enjoyed writing this six-part series on the core principles of relationship-based networking. I believe it to be the best way to practice networking: putting relationships ahead of transactions to build long-term, highly productive professional relationships that create personal value as well. Over the last 14 years, I have found that if we prioritize the value of the relationship over the “deal” or “sale,” and if we keep our eyes on the long term value, not just the immediate short term payoff, we can all have more fun, more friends, better careers, stronger businesses, healthier communities, and a better world. Now, what’s not to LOVE about that?!
If you would like to read more about the six core principles of relationship-based networking, below are the URL links to the individual blogs in this six-part series:
- Lend and Borrow Your Social Capital
- Strive to be Visible, Valuable, and Available
- Help Others and Ask for Help
- Be Authentic. Be Fully Present
- Follow Up and Stay In Touch
- Always Be Connecting
How can you leverage the power of your network?
If you have comments or stories of your own to share, please do so on the Facebook page for my book, Networking Ahead: https://www.facebook.com/NetworkingAhead/
Share this blog post on your LinkedIn feed– be sure to add your two cents about how networking has impacted your career, business, and life.