My Biggest Networking Lessons from 2017
2017 has been an incredible year of connecting, business growth and of course continually learning new strategies and techniques for the ultimate RON (return on networking). With this success has also come mistakes and today I want to share a few of my biggest networking lessons from this past year.
#1. Not Always Practicing What I Preach
For those of you who’ve heard me speak or attended my MeetUp group, #inspired5280, I always start the meeting by encouraging people share WHY they do what they do, followed by WHAT they do. We know, thank to the research of Simon Sinek and his book, Start With Why, that when we share a WHY statement we have the opportunity to connect with people on a deeper level and build trust and loyalty, which is the foundation for strategic networking.
Recently it came to my attention that at holiday events, other MeetUp groups and when I’m introducing myself I don’t always start with my own WHY statement. In fact, over the past couple of weeks I realized that when people asked me, “So what do you do?” I replied with a very basic and pretty boring (if I may say so) answer of, “I teach people how to strategically network.” While there’s nothing wrong with my answer there’s also nothing strategic about it and if I’m encouraging, teaching and holding my clients accountable to introduce themselves with a WHY statement I can and need to do the same.
For 2018 I’m committing to sharing my WHY statement every single time someone asks me, “What do you do?” I know it’s not always easy or comfortable to answer a WHAT question with a WHY statement, but I want to walk the talk and be an example for my clients and of course to my network. Sharing WHY you do what you do is not only a strategic way to introduce yourself but a free way to market yourself and stand out from the crowd.
#2. Setting Clear Boundaries
I can’t begin to tell you how much time I spent in my car this past year, nor do I want to spend any more time trying to think about how much money I spent on gas. While I love my car I also wasted so much time by driving back and forth to networking meetings, client appointments, etc.
By not setting clear boundaries around my own time I ended up wasting hours upon hours and perhaps more importantly I left meetings drained and oftentimes I felt resentful towards the people I was meeting with, which was completely unfair.
My biggest takeaway is that when I don’t set clear boundaries my feelings of resentment, frustration and lack of energy are all things that could have been avoided. One of the coolest parts about networking is that we can actually control many aspects of how we network and the RON we ideally want to see if we’re intentional about the energy we show up with and how we use our time.
Moving into 2018 I’m not only going to monitor my time by using a time blocking system, but I’m also going to dedicate certain days of the week and specific coffee shops for networking meetings. Creating more systems and more consistently to my schedule will enable me to utilize my time more intentionally so I can ensure I’m seeing a RON (return on networking), a ROT (return on time) and having the ability to truly show up to help and serve others.
Often times people assume that I never make mistakes while networking. While I’m humbled that this is how some people view me, let’s be honest, it’s just not true! I’m human just like you and while I strive to be a strong connector I also make mistakes. 2018 is just days away and it’s a perfect time to reflect on how to shift old habits into new powerful actions.
I’d love to hear what you’re biggest networking lessons of 2017 were and what you’re planning on doing differently in 2018. Please click here to share and I look forward to connecting in the new year!