Tuesday, September 4, 2007

What Makes a Good Networking Experience?

Sharan Tash, in her blog The Professional Networker, asks "what makes a good networking experience?" The question struck me as a good one, one that got me thinking.

To me, a good networking experience is broken into three critical stages:

Stage 1. The initial meeting. Is there a personal connection? Do I enjoy talking to this person? Are they listening to me, or are they just talking about themselves? Do we have some common interests? Can we learn something from each other?

Stage 2. The next step. Are our common interests compelling enough to continue our conversation beyond the initial meeting? Is there something I can do for them? Is there something they offered to do for me?

Stage 3. The long-term relationship. A bond of mutual respect develops. We keep up-to-date with each other's activities. We meet each other at different events, and take time to introduce each other to new contacts. A business relationship might develop.

Now, here's the thing. You can have a good networking experience at any one of the stages, but the truly meaningful networking is always moving towards creating a long-term bond of mutual respect. I've had great initial meetings with people that ultimately went nowhere. I've had ho-hum initial meetings with people, but I might meet the person again a few months later and suddenly the full potential of the relationship seems to come into bloom.

1 comment:

Oliver Picher said...

It struck me later that there is another factor involved in good networking connections: the connections! It's often not the person I meet that makes the difference but rather the person they introduce me to...