She asked me what my name was. Then she asked me what I did. I think it was the 7th time I heard this question, in this order. I was tired. Of the questions. Of the monotony. Of her eyes shifting to see who she could talk to next within 10 seconds of my answer.
And then one time, I was emptying my bag and I found 20 business cards at the bottom of it. I did not have a clue who 10 of them were. Not a clue. And I have a good memory. A great memory actually. I felt bad. What a waste of time. My time, their time, everyone’s time. So, I asked my friends if they had the same problem. Did they have a stack of cards and could not remember who these people were? Turns out, it is pretty common. So sad.
This is just one reason I believe you should stop going to networking events to advance your career.
People get mad at me when I say this, but I stand by it. Networking events almost never lead to business. And I have been to hundreds of them. It was a way for me to think I was being productive, but it wasn’t. It was a distraction. A fun one sometimes, but a distraction all the time. Do you have a card? Yuck.
Here is what I did instead, and it worked every time I wanted a new job or needed to generate more money for my business. Every time.
Become Santa Claus. Make a list of all the people who have been most helpful to you in your life. Then reach out the them and offer help in some way. I sent some of them ideas on ways they could grow their company or start a side business. I helped some of them re-write their cover letter when they applied for a new job. I volunteered at their local church. I listened to their problems. I featured them in my leadership column at Forbes. Almost every time I helped, business came to me in some way. I never offered help as a means of increasing my business, but it did. On the other hand, I always went to networking events to increase my business, and it almost never happened. Stop going to networking events to meet strangers tomorrow. Save that hour or two (or more) and help the most important people in your life today.
Be the bridge builder. Connect people in your network that could help each other. Make another list. Who in my network can help who in my network? Then remove yourself from their success. This is networking gold. Be the connector, the bridge builder, and they will always come back to you. They will always remember what you did. Always. And that is how you build a loyal network.
Check your email. Slow down and look at your inbox. We spend so much time running around meeting new people and trying to convince them they should do business with us. When we do this, we miss the people who already want to connect and help and build with us. Look at who is writing you today. Over the past week. The past month. Then figure out how you can build with them.
Read. Read good books from people you admire. You build virtual mentors. Authors spend years working on a book. You get to consume year’s worth of their work in a week. Thank you, author.
Ok, I’ll admit it. I still go to networking events. But never with the sole purpose of meeting connections that will help me advance my business or find a new job. I go because I want to hear a certain speaker, or because I want to learn something new, or meet a new friend. But mostly, I stay home and call people that have helped me. I write emails to people who could help each other. I have dinner with a mentor I’ve met or read a book from a mentor I have yet to meet. Then opportunities come. Out of thin air.
I can’t explain it, but have stopped trying. Maybe you’ll do this and it will work, too. And if it does, let me know.
And then maybe we can do business together. Or not.
But either way, it was nice to meet you.
Brian Rashid is a TED speaker and weekly writer for Forbes Magazine.
He is the creator of the globally delivered speech, “It’s Your Hour,” which focuses on leadership, entrepreneurship, and innovation for entrepreneurs, organizations, and corporations.
This training has influenced companies like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Salesforce, Credit Suisse, and Citigroup.
Brian is also the founder of the international training company, A Life in Shorts, which helps entrepreneurs, executives, and companies refine their message, pitch investors, and become master storytellers. His work has led to several millions of dollars in investments across the US, Latin America, the Middle East, and Europe.
Brian is fluent in Spanish and holds a Law Degree from the City University of New York. Prior to moving to San Francisco, he was a speechwriter for Mayor Bloomberg’s Administration in New York City. He is the author of the book, “It’s Your Hour: Mastering Public Speaking in 60 Minutes.”
For more information and content, please visit brianrashid.com.
Author: Bryan Oliver
Bryan Oliver is the founder of www.flight4success and is a strategic leader, success coach, and best-selling author. Bryan coaches on confidence, mindset, and habit creation to help you reach your dreams.