Networking gets a bad rap. Especially if you’re not naturally inclined toward flitting and floating around events chatting it up with everyone, even the thought of a networking event might exhaust you or make you cringe. I know I often feel that way, and I’m an extrovert!
Or maybe you’ve been “netWORKED.” You know that feeling. Like they’re just trying to get something out of you. They might even ask about you, but you can tell they are just waiting to sell you on something. Ick.
But here’s the thing…
Our lives and our businesses are made up of and totally dependent on the networks that we are a part of and create. For most business owners, the stronger your network, the more successful your business.
Luckily, networking does not have to be yucky. Networking can actually be deeply meaningful and beneficial to us and to everyone we touch.
So let’s look at networking from a different perspective…
Take a few steps back and imagine the system you and your business are a part of…
Think of it as an ecological habitat with many different intersecting hubs… fruit trees, small mammals, edible plants, pollinators, soil microbes, all exchanging food, oxygen, minerals, water, pollen… They are all in relationship with one another. Your business is like one of these hubs.
And likewise, in your business web of life you relate and connect with other hubs (people, businesses, organizations), and you also exchange things, learn things, buy things, consume things, and you offer other things back out to other hubs. You hire specialists, assistants, and coaches, collaborate with people, refer clients to people and vice versa.
In all of these relationships, there is an exchange of energy that can benefit both people, and some of these relationships are particularly mutually beneficial.
In ecology, this is called mutualistic symbiosis… a close, long-term interaction between two different species where both species benefit.
Just like an ecosystem, your business thrives in a diverse web of interrelated beings helping each other out over the long-term.
And the more each hub is playing its right role (or, filling its niche), helping some people and calling on help from others, the more smoothly the system works.
Community at its best!
In fact, each person or organization in your business web of life has a specific role, or a niche, just like each animal or plant in the ecological system has its role (the word niche comes from the ecological sciences).
When you know your niche – what you do, who you do it for and how you do it – it becomes so much easier to talk about it with people.
And networking stops being so painful.
It becomes a conversation about roles:
“What’s your role in this ecological web? That’s so cool! Here’s mine! How can we help each other? Are we a good fit to work together?”
And then it can evolve into a conversation toward weaving a stronger web of support for the mutual benefit of all.
“Oh my gosh, you have to meet so and so! Let me connect you.”
And then everybody’s all lit up and happy.
And the best part is this. You don’t even need to go to a networking event to do this. There’s actually another way.
In the next post, I give you a step-by-step process to boost your client-base through intentional, meaningful conversations.