This post is part of our Weekly Tips series.
As a junior consultant, I was taught that a successful networking event was one where (1) I confidently delivered my “elevator speech” as many times as possible, and (2) I collected as many business cards as I could. The result: I spent most of my time awkwardly engaging in shallow conversation with a lot of people. And I left with a stack of business cards that eventually got thrown out because there was no meaningful way to connect. I also learned to really dislike networking.
Networking falls apart, like most relationships do, when you are overly focused on your own needs and put them ahead of the good of the relationship. The goal of most business networking is to make new connections to get more business. The goal of trust-based networking is to help other people develop their businesses.
Trust-based networking gives you a chance practice the same principles that apply to longer, deeper interactions through a series of many short interactions: focus on the other person, be willing to share and collaborate, assume that relationships will continue in the future, and believe that by serving others, you will be well-served yourself.
When you are networking with trust, you are also leading with trust.
This week, take a different approach to networking: Make it all about them. If you’re attending an event, make it your primary goal to introduce two people for their mutual benefit (not yours). If your opportunities are only virtual, find two people in your network who would greatly benefit from knowing one another and offer to make an introduction.