The Top 5 Reasons People Network

And why you need to know what they are! Well, you may not need to know. You may not even care. But if you’re a networker and put a value on the quality of connections you make – you should care!

Remember, networking is about the connection!

I open many of my keynote talks, trainings, seminars, and events asking if anyone knows the 5 reasons people network. Most people can’t. (Can you?) They can only name one or two.

It’s funny when I ask the question, the audience will only come up with the one reason why they network and that’s it! This may seem obvious, but if you’re only focused on your own objectives it means you’re losing out on 80% of the impact you can have in helping people achieve their objectives. And what’s networking all about? Helping the right people so they help you right back. Give and take. Back and forth. Punch for punch.

And as any good boxer will tell you – it’s always better to give than receive.

Here are the 5 reasons people network:

More Business
More contacts, leads, and referrals. More recruits that you’re looking to hire. More votes to win the election. More opportunities for career advancement. More sales. When you attend a professional association, chamber mixer, young professionals group, networking meeting, or service group, what’s on people’s mind is usually more business. It’s up to you to learn about what type of business the people you meet are interested in landing. Even better if you know specifically what type of business you’re looking for – think target market!

Land a Job
According to the outplacement firm Lee Hecht Harrison, 76% of job searchers are landing their next work assignments through networking. That’s saying something! (By the way, I volunteer to help job searchers with their networking efforts all the time and, I watch them get interviews and land the job before my very eyes. My cousin just did so this week! He had an effective networking strategy because he knew what industry, profession, target companies, and geography to focus on. And that’s in a slow economy in the field of banking which is drastically changing. Not bad!) Bottom line, most job searchers aren’t nearly as effective as they could be. Why? Because many in job search were in roles where networking was not a natural part of their job. Now that many in search are “forced” to be in sales (as in selling themselves), they’re in unfamiliar territory. Anyway, the same focused strategy works for sales people – know specifically what you want (industry, profession, actual companies) so you’ll know where to go, what to say, and with whom. And why should you care about job searchers? They need your help and most are willing to help you right back!

Learn Something
Need some insight about an industry, profession, company, product, solution, designation, advancement, course, certification, software, hardware, geography, culture, dynamic, demographic, activity, sport, hobby, career choice, or whatever? Well, there is probably an organization out there that focuses on the area you may want to learn about. These days it’s as easy as ever but it’s up to you to find it! And go!

Social Reasons
The reason why dating sites like eHarmony.com and Match.com are so successful (I’m told) is because they match up the likes and dislikes of people in a noninvasive way. It’s similar with speed dating groups and other meet-ups although more daunting as these are face-to-face encounters. If you can target groups that attract those with similar interests relating to career, activities, age, religion, nationality, sports, fitness, or whatever, the ability to network can help you ease into the dating scene or even meet the love of your life! Just saying.

Solve a Problem
You can make an argument that looking to make a sale, land a job, learn something, or date is solving a problem – which is true. But there are problems that go beyond this. For example, my mom has Parkinson’s disease. Thankfully, there are all kinds of organizations like the Michael J Fox Foundation and Northwest Parkinson Foundation that have been helpful to me in coping with and learning more about the disease. The information I’ve received over the years has been priceless. There are those looking to solve problems that go beyond the scope of business and dating. There’s the home health care issue, dealing with aging parents, sickness, financial challenges, marital problems, the list goes on. These issues impact all of us at one time or another so bear this in mind as you’re meeting and greeting at that next mixer. Remember, great advice is hard to come by!

Bear in mind, I’m not saying that other benefits don’t come out of attending events or meeting new people through introductions and networking. There are plenty! But there are really only 5 reasons that people will look to join or attend an event and proactively meet other people. Everything else is just gravy on the potato!

Also, if you know specifically what you’re after (type of business, job, information, etc.), you’ll have a better understanding of where to go, what to say, and with whom!

So why is it so important for you to know the 5 reasons people network? So you’ll be more compelled to ask people you meet at events, “How can I help you?”

And if you’re lucky, they’ll help you right back!

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