2015 was a fun year for me because of a unique resolution I made the first week of January. I decided to reach out to my social network and have one meeting a week with someone I was connected with but didn’t actually know. This included LinkedIn connections, Twitter followers, and Facebook friends. To say these meetings changed my outlook on life would be an understatement. One of those coffees took place towards the end of October.
I had run into Josh Dreyer multiple times throughout the past couple of years. We attended a lot of the same networking functions, frequented non-profit events, and had a lot of mutual friends. We were friends on Facebook but had never had a meaningful conversation. I sent him a Facebook message and we agreed to get coffee at Panera the following week.
Our conversation was pretty standard. Where are you from? How did you get to where you are now in life? What are trying to do in the community? What drives you, and how can we help each other? We found we had a lot in common, even with him being a die-hard Hawkeye fan. Towards the end of the coffee, our conversation turned to how great and open a community Greater Des Moines is, how easy it is to get connected and to build real relationships. Then he said something that I still think about almost daily.
“You don’t know until you know.”
We had been talking about networking the right way. We both had similar experiences when we first entered the professional community – attending networking events, handing out as many business cards as possible, and being overly salesy during the entire process. We both hated it and neither had any success “networking” in the traditional sense. So we changed our style.
We started having meaningful conversations. We stopped talking about work and really engaged with people. We went into events to actually meet people instead of to sell them something. Success quickly followed for both of us both professionally and personally. We didn’t know the right way to network until we ran out of options.
If you’re not seeing the results you want through your network, try something new. Stop talking about work and really get to know the person you’re talking to. The work will follow as relationships build. Remember, “You don’t know until you know.”
- Danny Beyer is the director of Sales and Marketing for Kabel Business Services and author of The Ties that Bind: Networking with Style. He is also a professional speaker on networking.