"People just don't know how to network properly" is a complaint I often hear, especially if there have been folks at an event whose mission is to collect your business card and thrust their card into your hand. I call that the business card shuffle, and it's a game I refuse to play.
Have you ever read The 5 Love Languages ? It is an interesting book, and one that can help you better understand your partner and other important relationships in your life.
What are the five languages?
1. Affirmation - Giving words of encouragement
2. Acts of Service - Doing something kind or thoughtful for the other person.
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3. Affection - Giving a hug, a quick kiss.
4. Quality of time - spending time with the person, enjoying their company.
5. Gifts - Buying something that the other person would love
I know in my own relationships this has been helpful, because if you measure a person's love of you by your own language, they may be lacking in your eyes because in fact they are actually talking in a foreign tongue -- one of the other languages of love. We all show our love differently.
I believe in building your business relationships, that you also have to tap into the same languages. For example, you may well have a friend or peer who is always there to encourage you, to give you that extra ounce of courage you need to carry on. Or perhaps you have someone who will fix your computer when it is acting up or give you the bear hug just when you need it. Maybe you have a mentor or colleague with whom you can brainstorm and share your dreams. Or someone who makes a connection for you, giving the gift of a lead or referral.
But have you noticed what the common denominator is? Whether it is a work or personal relationship -- each language involves giving. There is nothing there about taking.
And that is what networking should be -- listening, taking an interest in the other person, helping to connect them with someone who could be helpful to them in their business; sending them an article you have come across that might be of interest to them.
Now you may feel this is very one-sided, but when you give, you gain. If you have helped someone, they will reciprocate, and vice versa. Unfortunately I know, the world has its share of takers, but then you learn and move on.
It can be a lonely and tough world out there, much better to travel with like-minded women who can support one another. That's really what I try to foster in Company of Women, and it is that vision that keeps me going. We are a community, a tribe that watches each others' backs and are there for each other.
This is my language. I encourage you to learn it, because when you do, you will find doors open and your life because full of wonderful, caring moments and people. And yes, the money follows.
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