Mothers are a beautiful thing. They care for us, nurture us, and teach us the dos and don’ts of life. I’ve learned a lot from my mother. Especially when she taught me all about life, love . . . and networking tips! I’m sure she didn’t realize she was teaching me about networking at the time. But she was. And I bet your mom taught you networking tips as well. Perhaps the words of my mom will sound familiar to you.
1. “Share your toys.”
“Networking wouldn’t be networking if we didn’t share!” I can’t remember how many times my mom told me to share! She felt it was important that we knew how to give to others. Growing up in a large family, I had to share almost everything. Sharing is good to learn when you’re young because it’s a skill that makes us approachable.
Networking wouldn’t be networking if we didn’t share. We build stronger relationships with people when we’re willing to share our resources. Some of our best resources include time, money, connections, information, knowledge, and skills. People appreciate us when we’re willing to give to the relationship. Giving people are approachable and reap the benefits of reciprocity.
2. “Walk, don’t run!”
I used to hear this phrase no matter where we were: the house, grocery store, mall, church, or school! As a kid, I was always in a hurry to get to the next exciting thing. There always seemed to be someplace more interesting than where I was at the time. My attention was short, and my mom wanted me to learn patience.
Patience is a virtue when it comes to networking. A fast-paced networker misses the true essence of the event and can very easily blow right past a tremendous opportunity. Fast-paced networkers tend to build shallow relationships that offer little or nothing of value to their business. On the other hand, patient networkers build deep, long-lasting relationships that lead to the growth of their business. Establishing a network that has depth far exceeds one that is shallow.
3. “You have to work for it!”
Nothing in life worth having comes easy; you have to work for it! My parents taught me this lesson by example. Both of my parents worked hard for what they accomplished and gave to their five children. They were determined to provide a wonderful life for their family–and they did. Today, in their retirement, they are reaping the benefits of their labor.
Networking is no different. That’s why it’s called, net-WORK! It’s not net-SIT or net-EAT! Building relationships takes not only time, but effort and energy. It also takes commitment and dedication to the process. Some people put their faith in the six degrees of separation theory, which tells them that they’re connected to anyone by only six degrees. In fact, this theory is flawed. This study actually shows that only 29% of the population is indeed separated by six degrees! So, for the majority of us, we’ve got to work hard to get into the 29% and work hard to just stay there. The reward for accomplishing this task is great, beyond what we can even imagine. Our mothers had foresight, didn’t they?
4. “Say thank you.”
Not long after we began to speak my mom was making sure that we knew how to say thank you! As most kids do, I wanted to know why it was important to say thank you. Being a fast-paced kid, there seemed to be no time for thank-yous. In true mom form, my mother would reply, “It’s the right thing to do.” Before I knew it, saying thank you became second nature–and it felt right. too. Now it’s part of who I am and how I operate.
Saying thank you to those who have helped you in some way shows your gratitude, expresses your appreciation, and solidifies the steps made towards further developing the relationship. It seems as though these two little words get forgotten a lot these days. It’s sad when you stand out just for being someone who says, Thank You! I can assure you handwriting a note of thanks to a referral partner will enhance the possibility of future referrals and give you a reputation of integrity.
5. “Clean up after yourself”
What does cleaning up after yourself have to do with networking? As kids, there was always one last thing to do when we played with our toys: Put them away. That was our quiet lesson in follow-up. We followed-up every play time with a consistent behavior of cleaning up after ourselves.
Today, as adults, one huge component of networking is follow-up and, more importantly, our ability to do it consistently. Meeting people and building relationships mean very little if we never bother to follow-up with them. Making promises to help someone without efficient follow-up is vain. This homegrown lesson in follow-up might be the most important networking lesson of all.
These five networking tips and lessons grounded me as a person and helped me develop into a successful professional. I can still hear my mom saying, “Someday you’ll thank me!” So, Mom, thanks for teaching me lessons that would one day help me to be an effective networker!
Perhaps it’s time you thanked your mom, too.
Michelle R. Donovan, is an owner at Productivity Uncorked LLC (www.ProductivityUncorked.com) where they coach and consult financial advisors. She is the co-author of the Wall Street Journal Best Seller, “The 29% Solution: 52 Weekly Networking Success Strategies” now published in seven languages and the co-author of A Woman’s Way: Empowering Female Financial Advisors to Authentically Lead and Flourish in a Man’s World, an Amazon Best Selling Book. She can be reached at 724-816-1760 or by email at Michelle@ProductivityUncorked.com.