Here at Network Under 40, we love to learn from others who have proven track-records of success! We recently read Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com. We learned a lot, but one thing really stood out to us. Rather than paraphrasing him, please take a look at this insightful quote on Tony’s ideas about networking (bolded words are our emphasis):
‘I personally really dislike “business networking” events. At almost every one of these events, it seems like the goal is to walk around and find people to trade business cards with, with the hope of meeting someone who can help you out in business and in exchange you can help that person out somehow…
Instead, I usually prefer to focus on just building relationships and getting to know people as just people, regardless of their position in the business world or even if they’re not from the business world. I believe that there’s something interesting about anyone and everyone- you just have to figure out what that something is.
If you are able to figure out how to be truly interested in someone you meet, with the goal of building up a friendship instead of trying to get something out of that person, the funny thing is that almost always, something happens later down the line that ends up benefiting either your business or yourself personally.
Zappos.com has been around for over 10 years now… Things happened that we could not have possibly predicted, but they were the result of relationships that we had started 2-3 years earlier.
So my advice is to stop trying to “network” in the traditional business sense, and instead just try to build up the number and depth of your friendships, where the friendship itself is its own reward. The more diverse your set of friendships are, the more likely you’ll derive both personal and business benefits from your friendships later down the road. You won’t know exactly what that benefits might be, but if your friendships are genuine, those benefits will magically appear 2-3 years later down the road. ‘
While it may seem odd that we’d be sharing this with all of you, we disagree. The whole foundation and purpose for the creation of Network Under 40 was to curate an environment whereby peers (people under 40 in their respective cities) could gather monthly to diversify the people they know, lead with social interactions in order to build rapport, and in turn, develop relationships that could lead to unforeseen payoffs later (both in your personal and professional lives). We work diligently to create fun environments in which to facilitate this for you and love hearing about the things that came out of it for you afterwards!
We hope you’ll join us (or continue to do so) with this understanding in mind: that trying to meet everyone in a room is not productive; that lightening rarely strikes and you won’t often connect directly with someone who is precisely what you need at that moment; that the value is garnered over time when you do the follow up after an event; that you have to build rapport and trust with people you meet in order to seek anything from them; and that the more diverse your group of contacts becomes, the more success you will ultimately find in both your personal and professional life.
Here’s to “networking” in this sense of the term! We look forward to meeting you at a future event!