7 Ways Networking is Like a First Date (and why you want to know)

 In Professional Networking

Networking is one of those things like eating healthy that many of us know we should do but don’t because it can be a drag. Going to events where you really don’t know anyone and trying to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger is kind of tough, even for the most outgoing.

Yet, I draw upon dating as the best comparison to what networking is all about. It doesn’t have to be a thing of dread and loathing.

#1 – Remember why you’re both together. Your first date (and also the person you are about to speak with at an event) is there to get to know each other and have fun.

#2 – Networking is developing relationships. Somehow we’ve lost site of the fact that networking is really all about developing relationships with others. In recent years, we put the word “network” on it and that endowed it with a certain mystique. If you think of what you are doing in those terms, it can make what you are doing easier.

#3- Ask questions. How else will you get to know the other person if you don’t ask questions about them, their work and the things that interest them? This process is exactly the same for networking. Get to know the other person.

#4 – They really aren’t that much of a stranger. Like a date, there is something that has drawn you together. For networking, it is probably whoever organized the event you’re going to. Figure out your commonality as you are getting to know the other person.

#5 – You don’t have another agenda. When you’re at an event, you aren’t there to try to figure out who is the best connection or what they can do for you. If that is your approach, you will not connect. This is better known as “using” someone and we all hate to be used. Don’t go with that as your intention.

#6 – Follow up. Just like a date, it takes time and investment to figure out if you both have the background and chemistry to form an ongoing relationship. Unless the person you met is someone you know you will never mesh with, plan to follow up to further get to know this person. Meeting a person and getting their name is only the first step in a series of steps for developing a good working relationship.

#7 – Not all dates work out. As you know, not all dates turn into the love of your life. The same is true for new people you meet. It’s ok if you and the person you just met didn’t really “click” enough to turn this into an ongoing relationship.

More than anything, your approach and perspective of what you are doing when you network will help you turn networking into an activity you can feel confident about doing.

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