I am a huge fan of Christmas comedy movies.
One of the favorites that comes to mind is Fred Claus. This is a wonderful story about the brother of
Nicholas Claus known as Fred, played by Vince Vaughn. When Fred is down on his luck and needs money, he uses his family name, Claus, to accept donations on the street in exchange for hugs and other encouragement. The genius of this approach is that Fred decided to go against the “rules” of Christmas donation etiquette by espousing the People Helping People mantra.
He even went so far as to whistle and engage people who otherwise not seen or heard from him. He Spoke UP, made an effort to meet new donors, and offered gracious appreciation. In fact, he served at least seven people until he was shut down by an outside force of angry Santas from the Salvation Army.
Networking is an art-form that can be learned. Here are some key core principles to remember when networking:
1. Meet the People
Meeting the people is the first core principle. Until we get toe to toe and face to face, the impact and value of networking will not be known. Make it a key daily performance indicator to meet two–or more–people you didn’t know before. Learn something about them and their needs. Offer a contribution to their needs: whether that’s advice, money, connection to others…There’s something you can offer!
2. Learn about People
Ask questions, be interested, learn something about someone that you didn’t know before. Good news, asking questions takes all the pressure off of me to actually fill dead air with my voice. Or to feel important that I have to make regular and unwanted contributions to someone without first getting to know their pain.
3. Feel Others Pain Without Judgment
Asking questions, learning, and understanding another persons situation, work life, personal life or any other life for that matter, can be emotionally stressful to absorb. We aren’t here to solve
everyone’s problems, unless we feel we can actually do so. Sometimes we can’t, and leave conversations without a tangible outcome. Other times, a question and answer can lead to career opportunity–you directly fix their problem with your skills and experience. Dialog to understand can also lead to a job opportunity for someone you know–a great feeling for sure is to actually find someone else a job (do you think they will forget you? ever? NEVER!)
4. Natural Endings to a Well Prepared Informational Meeting
We meet the people. We ask questions. We understand their pain. What now? The beauty of this process is that you understand it’s a journey. Each repetition is a new and fun experience. The outcome is less important than the process, however, as you get better at it, you will feel inclined to make tangible contributions when possible. This could be a simple referral to your network, a phone number for a quality roofer, helping a neighbor with their yard cleanup, or supporting a friend grieving the loss of a family member. It can also be a great way to meet a future spouse, find meaningful and rewarding work, learn about educational opportunities after high school, or turn an entrepreneurial idea into reality.