One of my favorite ways to educate professionals about the value of networking is through workshops and training sessions. It’s my standard operating procedure to begin each talk with a simple question: How many of you would say you love networking? I can tell you, irrespective of the size of the audience, the reaction is always the same – in a room of 100 people, about 10½ will raise their hands – often reluctantly. The follow up question is, of course, “how about the others of you… why don’t you love networking?” The responses run the gamut from “I don’t know how to do it,” to “it’s too time consuming,” to “it feels inauthentic,” to “it’s just too much work.” No surprise… I spend the remaining time I have with the participants working to reframe their perspectives on networking and, for those who said they actually love it, to get them to amplify their approach even more. Usually, I’m successful. The game changer: A name change.
Creative thinker, Roger von Oech, says that different words bring in different assumptions and lead one’s thinking in different directions. For example, if an architect looks at an opening between two rooms and thinks, “door,” then that is what she will design. However, if instead of “door” she thinks “passageway,” she might design something much different like a “hallway,” “air curtain,” “tunnel,” or “courtyard.”
With that in mind, years ago, I read an article that described people’s visceral reaction to the word “networking” as highly negative as they perceived it to essentially be the art of coercing people into doing things they don’t really want to do. So, let’s change it up! Instead of “networking,” think:
· Relationship building
· Making friends
· Exchanging ideas
· Establishing contacts
A simple name change may make all the difference and get you in the right frame of mind to reach out, introduce yourself, and get to know others so you will be happier, more effective and more productive in business and in life.
Happy Networking (er… Interacting!)!