The most positive impact in your life – business and personal – will come through you saying, ‘How can I help you’.
Think about it. Think about the latest networking event or group you have attended. Who was the most interesting person there? Was it the one who continuously talked about themselves and their business or the person who asked about you and yours?
Most people would say it was the latter. It’s obvious when you think about it, we like people to show a genuine interest in us. I belong to a networking organisation which prides itself in teaching its members these principles. When you choose to give first, you always gain.
It’s not only true in formal networking. Think about the ‘party bores’ you have met, where you wanted the floor to open up and swallow them – or indeed you! Then think about the people you met where you said afterward, ‘I was talking with a really interesting woman…’ She was probably ‘interesting’ because she was interested in helping you.
Sadly the majority of events that have the word networking lashed to them are populated by people who are there to sell something; they are hoping to get business by just turning up. They are not genuinely interested in helping others and when they work out that you may not currently be in the market for what they do watch how quickly they move on or completely disengage.
Recently I was asked to speak at an event for a large international company where they had invited clients, suppliers and potential clients to attend. Part of my presentation was all about better networking through helping others, something the head of the company was on a mission to drive home.
One person I engaged with during pre-event refreshments clearly did not know I was the speaker. He talked at me for 10 minutes, bombarded me with information about what he sold, told me he had only agreed to come to the event because ‘there was business to be had’, he then said something inappropriate about our hosts who it transpired was his client. He also said he’d use the break to slip away as, ‘The last thing I need is to sit through someone telling me to help other people’. He then asked, ‘So, who invited you?’ I said, ‘The CEO and thank you so much, you have no idea how valuable it has been for me to listen to you.’ There was a puzzled look on his face as we were interrupted by the staging company who wanted to talk me through the sound equipment. I do hope he made it to the break as there was definitely something for him in the early part of my talk.
What he never got was the chance to find out was who I could refer him to. He didn’t take time to find out who I knew in the company who were paying for our canapés or the very personal relationship I had with his client. The opportunities lost are incalculable.
People do business with those they like and trust.
When we show interest in others, they usually return the gesture and over time, better and more fruitful relationships are built.
If you are only thinking, ‘what is in this for me’, you will get less every time. Whoever you approach, whoever approaches you, have this one phrase in mind, ‘How can I help you?’ Be genuinely interested in the other person, don’t use it as a tactic or device but be authentic.
If you think you can feign interest then think again. If you try that you will be so transparent that you will quickly be recognised as deceiving. Ask questions that will help you help that person, ask them if you could arrange to speak again so you can find out more about what they do. Then follow up. Don’t look at people as a potential sale but as a potential business relationship, one in which all parties are looking for ways to help each other.
But, just in case you meet my friend who was only interested in what he sells, you better have a strategy to cut them off and move on! Life is simply too short to spend what little we have with people who only worry about themselves. And there are far more interesting people to spend your time with and to help.
Have a positive, focused and dynamic help giving week.
All the best, Rick.