Tony Hsieh—CEO of zappos.com, Inc.— built and sold a company for hundreds of millions of dollars shortly after graduating college. He then grew a company to over $1 Billion in annual merchandise sales in less than 10 years (*Zappos). In his book Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, Tony shares an excerpt that originally was written as an excerpt for Ivanka Trump’s book.
I personally dislike ‘business networking’ events. At almost every one of these events, it seems like the goal is to walk around and find people to trade business cards with…
Do you have a similar perception of “business networking” events? I do. I was at a local chamber of commerce event one time and two people literally walked up to me, looked down at my name tag to see where I worked, asked me, “what do you do?”, and then handed me a business card.
“Whoa! Pump the brakes! You don’t even know who I am or what I’m about!” I didn’t actually say that, but my face probably portrayed my feelings. They quickly walked away.
I’m blown away when I experience someone who acts as if “networking” is a transaction where you ask what someone does, exchange business cards, and move on quickly if he or she can’t immediately help. Tony goes on to discuss his focus on relationship building. THAT is what “networking” really is.
My definition of networking:
Initiate, build, and leverage mutually beneficial relationships to achieve specific goals.
The benefits you gain from networking might not be a direct sale to a person you’ve “networked” with. The value you gain may simply be a new perspective on life and/or business. Or, you may gain an interesting insight into the life of someone else who may need your product or service. Or, you may be energized by the conversation you have with another person who is full of energy and passion for his or her business and that passion transfers to you for the day, week, or month. I will dig further into the topic of “networking” with future posts.
For now, I’ll leave you with two thoughts.
1. Think of “networking” as the process of meeting new friends. Get to know people. Learn their passions, interests, fears, and concerns. Learn what excites them. Learn what bores them to tears (and then DON’T talk about that topic further!).
2. If you can and will start to think of “networking” as the process of meeting new friends, then realize this means you can “network” anywhere and everywhere. Could you make a new friend at a coffee shop? At a bar? In line for a movie? Anywhere you go, you can potentially meet a new friend. Make this your mindset if you truly desire to grow your network. Simply think of it as growing your friendships.
I challenge you to make at least one new friend today.
Also, put Delivering Happiness on your “MUST READ” list. Seth Godin provides a testimony for the book by saying, “This book is funny, true, important, and useful. Just like Tony.” And it is. Decide to have a great day, no matter what! And go make some friends!