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Networking Without the Sleaze Factor

The two most common reasons I've heard for not wanting to network are that it feels "sleazy" or the person doesn't know how. Fortunately there is one solution for both of these issues ... be a "connector."

A connector means your goal is to help others in any way you can and connect them with others who can help them. The spotlight and emphasis should be on them, not you. The only thing going through your head when you meet someone new is how you can help them and who you can introduce them to. This takes all of the focus, insecurity, and "sleaziness" off of you.

A friend of mine has had wonderful results after implementing a new behavior (allegedly used by President Ronald Reagan) when he meets someone for the first time. In order to remind him to focus on the person he's meeting and not himself, he identifies the person's eye color. Recently he had a meeting with a prospective client that could transform his business. He mentally rehearsed what he wanted to say, how he wanted to say it, and the objectives for the meeting. But when he was introduced to the prospect, he discovered he was too focused on himself. As he shook her hand, he remembered to notice her eye color. As soon as he did this, it took the pressure off himself and he became engaged with her as a person and not just a business transaction. Start noticing eye color and keep the focus on the other person.

Building a great network takes time (usually part of your other 8 hours), energy, patience, and a little guts. Don't be afraid to get out there and shake some hands. The natural benefit from being a connector and keeping the focus on "them" is that people will be attracted to you and will look for ways to help you. Being a connector is rewarding and easy. Try it.

(Sleazy Guy Image by bmw_guy, CC 2.0)
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