According to a recent survey, most members of WBO want to know how to network effectively. When I heard this, I decided to write a series of articles on what effective networking is. But first, let me tell you a story about ineffective networking (this is my politically correct way of saying bad networking) or what networking isn’t.

I met a gentleman at an online networking event. We later connected on Zoom. He talked about the work he used to do and why he became an entrepreneur. He talked about his new product, which he was very excited about, and why it had value in the marketplace. I agreed with him. Then he asked me what I did. When he found out, he promptly said, “Oh, you can’t help me.” I was dumbfounded! His business was digital business cards where you would put all your information into a QR code. You buy one card, and when someone asks for your card, you give them your QR business card. They scan it with their phone, then return the QR card to you. So instead of buying a box of 500 cards, you buy one business card. I’m a business owner! I use business cards, and I know other business owners, but he felt I couldn’t help him. Go figure. I don’t know what he was thinking or wanting, but it was clear he was in networking to get.

Over the years, I’ve learned the most important thing about networking is that it isn’t about getting from people. Networking is about giving to people. What do you give? You give your ear to listen to the other person and listen effectively to things they’re saying and things that they’re not saying, so learn about them. You can load a person up with information (websites, software networking groups, etc.) that will help that other person’s business grow. A gentleman I met the other day via Zoom did that to me, and I can’t wait for our next appointment. You can give business tips or referrals. You can give a free consultation. You can also give information around their personal interests (movies, theater, events, shows, etc.). Don’t worry about what the person will give you back.

Now you know networking is about giving. Yay! Over the next series of articles, I will cover breaking the ice, good openings, being memorable, business cards, social media (LinkedIn, Facebook), referrals, and more so you can network effectively. As we’re going through this series, I’ll be looking for your feedback and your networking tips.

Blog post by Sharman J. Monroe, Esq.