Building Connections That Matter - Networking Groups

Last night we had our first Ready Set Go Network Hendersonville Meetup at Never Blue. The food was delicious, the restaurant beautiful and fun... and well, the group was alive, interactive, real, and building connections.

My success plan for 2017 focuses on 'building connections that matter' and last night connections were built and it gave me goose bumps. The good kind. Where you look at what is happening and think 'this is SO good'.

The conversations were relaxed in how they developed and throughout the night insights about each of us went beyond typical 'first time we met conversations'. The focus was making connections rather than networking, yet each person had a number of conversations about what they do... and went even farther to discuss deeper about what others wanted to know about a product or service.

There was a schedule of events to guide us throughout the networking processes.. and we threw it out as we were allowing the evening to proceed organically and accomplished more in building those connections.

Why am I talking so much about connections rather than networking in the 'traditional' manner?

Through my research on networking, I found that what matters most are the connections we have with other. It is not saying any particular method of structuring the networking group is better or worse than another... it is the building of connections that matters most.

No matter the set up of your networking event - or finding commonality in any group you are present in personal or professional - there are common 'needs' people seek to find in others and often you find you seek these as well.

1. Authenticity - be who you are - warts and all - so people see the real you. The warts and all is simply to define you as who you are not who you want others to see you as... when you are real and imperfect, people will connect with you and find commonality with you and feel comfortable with you.

2. Identify Shared Goals and Values - in such a diverse world that we live in, it is difficult to figure out what we have in common that we can actually talk about. This is not about politics, religion, or other 'hot' topics... what we are talking about is kindness, helpfulness, trust, honesty, and other elements of moral character.

3. Mutual Respect - respect takes time to form and increases as we prove ourselves worthy and others prove themselves. In business relationships this is especially true. The trust we build is based on our reputations and our ability to put our actions behind our words.

4. Vulnerability is a Good Thing to Share - when you share a bit about yourself - whether a gratitude, abundance, or what you wish to manifest - you share a bit of the vulnerability that others can relate too. You also allow others to feel the level of mutual respect to be vulnerable as well. This is the start of a connection that matters to them and to you.

5. Loyalty - Have Their Back - there are always situations where someone is needing support from others. Whether you hear something from another person that makes you worry about their character, you have to decide what action you will take and how you will move forward. When you demonstrate loyalty to others, you experience it in abundance back at you.

6. Meaningful Connections with Others to Network with Them - when you supply someone a referral, you are paying a great compliment to others. You show your trust in them by handing over a person you share a name with... and yet, you expect them to pick up the 'work' and connect with your referral. How they respond can either build a connection or let it go to the side and be ignored.

7. Be More Personal - make an effort to meet with them one-on-one for coffee, lunch or dinner and have a conversation to meet them where they are... not in a location, but to find out who they are and what they bring to a relationship. Think past what business they can bring you or what you can bring them and get to know the person beyond the business networking element and find out what you have in common as people.

8. Do Something Fun Together - Music, art, entertainment, meetups (non-networking ones), community events, going out to dinner and a show - all those things that helps a person have a fun time with others so you can be the people you are when not working.

9. No Expectations - when you network and meet someone for the purpose of 'getting a referral or customer' you often walk away unhappy. This is because you find the expectation of great things happening disappointing. When you head into the event and connection with no expectations, you are in fact able to see past your expectations and see what they really bring you... a connection that matters for more reasons than just networking. You see the person rather than the result. And that makes it all worth while.

10. Brainstorming Time Scheduled - do you ask those you meet to meet with you to help you brainstorm on a variety of topics... to help you think outside YOUR box and to help them think outside THEIR box... and then you explode with great ideas and a great deal of motivation. This is not the same a 'free consultation' or an exchange of your products or services - it is about the ability to get together as 'friends' just working together on separate or similar things... much like a study partner...

11. Be First To Offer Something Before Asking For Something - Serving is the new selling ( 2010). When we educate, help and inspire others with our expertise and experience we build a foundation of trust that will endure throughout the relationship. When you offer something to show your experience and expertise and then ask... your value in the relationship has increased.

Last night, there were so many examples of all of the 11 points happening throughout the entire group. It was a beautiful experience to be a part of and connections happened. Connections that matter!

Hope you can join us at either the 1st Thursday dinner or the 3rd Tuesday lunch meetup.