This is a guest post by Reinvention Strategist™ Marshawn Evans, a former Miss America beauty queen turned Donald Trump Apprentice, turned Georgetown University trained sports & entertainment lawyer who equips the motivated to live without limits. She is Founder of ME Unlimited, a management consulting and performance strategy firm.

This post originally ran on the BlackEnterprise.com site in June 2010

Move Beyond the Hustle: The Myths of Networking

4 great tips to move you beyond the hype to establishing authentic business relationships

 

I am constantly amazed by the mistakes that people make when it comes to networking.  Every day, I receive an email, a Facebook message or a Tweet (www.twitter.com/marshawnevans) from someone asking me for something.  I love being in a position to give, to advise, and to help.  The reality, however, is that I can only do so much.  The real challenge is that requests come from people I do not know.

Giving a business card does not mean we now have a connection, certainly not a real relationship.  A relationship implies reciprocity—more of a give-and-take, mutually-beneficial kind of thing.  Networking is not about the number of business cards you have.  It is about what you do with them, and how you do it.

In my book, SKIRTS in the Boardroom: A Woman’s Survival Guide to Success in Business & Life (Wiley 2008), I have an entire chapter dedicated to networking called “Connections: Do Shorter SKIRTS Ever Hurt?”  As a Reinvention Strategist™, I firmly believe that you cannot change your outcomes unless you change your outlook.  Success is only as sustainable as the strength of your relationships.  The key to reinventing your success begins with reinventing and renewing your relationships—or at least your approach.

My point: You must be careful when asking for a hook-up.  It often makes people think that you are trying to hustle them. Why?  A hustler always wants something from someone.  This is difficult for hungry entrepreneurs to appreciate, but it is critical to understand nonetheless.  Asking for help does not mean that you are being deceitful, but you probably are not earning points either.

Networking strategically is one of the most effective tools for career enhancement. For men and women alike, it requires patience, persistence, and savvy insight to bypass the most common pitfalls.  Here are three common myths when it comes to networking.

Myth #1: It is “who you know” that determines where you go.
False!  That thought is only partially true.  Ultimately, where you go is about your ability to expand “who you know” by networking. Plus, it is about how well you know “who you know,” what the “who you know” says about you, and how much the “who-you-know” trusts you!

Myth #2: Networking is a numbers game.
Wrong!  Trying to meet as many people as possible is a faulty approach.  True networking is about quality, not quantity.  Anyone can collect a ton of business cards. Strategic networking is about establishing quality relationships.

Myth #3: Networking is about finding others who can help you reach your goals.
Yet another mistake!  Effective networking is a give-and-take process.  Notice the word give comes before take.  The more you give of yourself, your time, and your expertise, the more others will want to pour back into your life and career as well.

Now that you know the common myths, here are some reinvention strategies and tips that you can use to be more effective moving forward.

Tip #1: Value People.
Everyone you meet has something to offer. Most people tend to engage in what I call “stuck-up networking” – meaning you tend to only talk to those you think are important or worthy of your time.  Sowing seeds into the lives of others opens up doors and leads to key referrals.  You never know where the next fantastic opportunity will come from.

Tip #2: Know Your Brand.
The real key to strategic networking is being able to listen to the needs of others.  From there you strategically respond by sharing relevant information about your brand and your abilities to meet those needs.  The finesse comes in presenting your assets without appearing pushy.

Tip #3: Start slowly.
When you first meet someone, the objective is to get to know that person and learn more about that individual’s business or industry.  The goal is not to get something.  Never start a conversation with someone by saying, “I want to pick your brain.”  That, my friends, is ‘taker’ talk.  Wise networkers give.  Asking for too much too soon is like trying to get married after the first date.  Plus, I do not want my brain “picked” – that sounds traumatic.  I don’t mind sharing insight, but please, no picking!

Tip #4: Be Ready.
Remember, networking is not a onetime event.  You should be ready to connect with people and to find mutual synergies wherever you go.

For additional insight, pick-up your copy of SKIRTS in the Boardroom—it is also available for download on KindleClick here to sign-up for my free ME Unlimited® e-Newsletter featuring daily “Motivate ME” affirmations and reinvention advice, and you can follow me on Twitter for quick tips.

It’s your turn now.  Share your networking tips and faux-pas with us.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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7 Comments

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  1. Thanks for allowing me to grace Innovation Matters as a guest poster. Enjoying the new site! Thanks for the great information and insight – keep it coming.

    1. Erkan says:

      Ami chakaite be za vas tova li e iclhniq jivot internet hahha malko e smeshno. I kak taka shte razberat koi e sedql pred pc-to pri polojenie che jiveem po 4 5 choveka v panela. I kvo tolkova she razberat. To i sega koito si iska mojeda vi prosledi bez da zabelejite taka pone shte znaete. Puk i kato nepravish nishto nezakono kakvo se pritesnqvate. che svalqme filmi igri i kup gluposti tva koi ne go znae. siguren sum che dori i policaite si svalqt filmcheta i policeiski igri ot zamunda. Puk i nevijdam cqlata rabota kak she stane te s segashnite prestypnici deto sa gi hvanali nemogat da se spravqt puk kvo ostava za oshte 5 6 miliona choveka )) i sus strahotno obucheniq personal na MBP. Spored men trqbva purvo da nauchat milicionerite kak da se darjut s nas tehnite klienti

  2. Brian says:

    I am glad that you are enjoying the site, Marshawn. Thanks to YOU for continuing to be an inpiration to me, and to a generation of entrepreneurial innovators.

    Please do return frequently for more Innovation Matters updates, and I hope that you will guest post again in the future.

    1. Mehmetilker says:

      Fakta che se vavejda ntsheo podobno spored men si e chista proba NARUSHAVANE NA CHOVESHKITE PRAVA Nqkoi shte kaje che v naprednalite strani tova e vsekidnevie da taka e no vsichko tova e podkrepeno s dobri i raboteshti zakoni nemoga da se suglasq s fakta che MBP razpolaga s tolkova mnogo dobri specialisti koito sa tolkova suvestni che da pazqt takuv tip informaciq koeto si e dosta otgovorno.Nqkoi kaza che shte budat sledeni strogo opredeleni hora e dobre no az lichno ne sam chul i vidql po televiziqta nqkoi da e vkaran v zatvora i da si e izlejal prisudata s pomoshta na Specialni razuznavatelni sredstva a az gledam mnogo Novini

  3. […] This post was Twitted by CP2E […]

  4. This is great information! Definitely good reminders on how to network. I am anxious to put these into practice!

    1. Ghozali says:

      Razgovor v skype ne moje da se podslushva, moje samo da se zeabrre sourse i destination IP, Chat v skype syshto ne moje da se sniff taka che spokoino, no moje naistina da se collect info na izprateni failove. Ako niakoi polzva Internet za neshto neredno, nishto niama da mu struva da prochete za 1-2 chasa kak da si Crypt infoto, koeto syotvetno da stane nevyzmojno za prihvashtachi , Iskam da kaja kakvo predstavliava internet na gospodata policai Vrata nasred poleto !!! tova e internet, taka e zamislen i e kysno da se promenia kakvoto i da e. Router + Storage Server za kanal 100 Mbita za archives na celia traffik 6 meseca nazad spored men o pochti milion US$ Za izpylnenie na proekta za ciala Bulgaria parite sa nevyzmojno mnogo. Situaciata e Absurdna taka che za men lichno cialata patardia e prosto medien shum i nishto poveche, neznam s kakva cel.

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