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I got an email from someone two days ago from the shankman.com contact page – and true to what I preach, I responded – Me – no one else. (Took me a day, but I did.) This person simply asked, “How do you cultivate the seemingly endless energy you have to constantly meet new people and grow your network like you say you do?”
I thought about it for a while – And it bothered me – Because I couldn’t come up with an answer immediately – I don’t think I’m full of energy – Quite the opposite – I see myself as constantly tired. As much business travel as I do, always up early for training for this stupid Ironman which has taken over my life, asleep at 8pm on a Saturday night in Vegas instead of going out so I can get up early for a workout the next day – In fact, I’ve probably cut down by over 95% easily, the number of industry events or parties I used to go to as near as a year ago.
So it bugged me – And I tried to answer her email, and below is what I came up with. Perhaps it’ll benefit someone else, as well. Or, call me on it if you think there are better ways – All I can tell you, is that this is the answer I came up with when I looked inside myself and repeated her question.
Thanks for the note!
I wish I could give you some magic answer, ______… I don’t think I can, though. Best advice I can give you is what works for me – Stop thinking about it as “networking” as opposed to “working,” or “working out,” or “eating,” or “traveling,” “commuting,” or “going out with friends.”
Instead, imagine networking as something you do 24 hours a day – when it suits you – that’s the key – If you’re in a bar or at a conference or in a lounge, and you’re talking to someone new, throw in a question that actually leads somewhere, instead of typical banter that doesn’t. When you’re on a plane, roll your eyes about the delay to the person next to you and strike up a conversation.
In the end, connections don’t come from specific “networking” times – They come from just living your life – Talking to the people you’re fortunate enough (or fated) to interact with. So actually talk to all of these people. (There are tons of them out there, we just don’t see 99% of them) and LISTEN – We spend most of our time listening just to find an opening so we can talk again. Don’t do that – Listen and process – What did they just say, and how can you figure out a way to relate that to something to which you’re passionate about? And go from there. Some conversations will be nothing more than ways to kill time, and that’s fine, too. But others might be the start of something truly awesome. Either way, you won’t know if you don’t make the attempt.
Best of luck, _____ – I can tell you this – I think it’s actually a lot of fun.
All the best,
So what do you think? Was my reply solid? Or was it horrible advice?
How would you have answered it? Let me know in the comments.