“I like being a part of something. I like participating and being part of a group.”
~Andie MacDowell

When it comes to networking, are you a be-er or a do-er? The secret to success? Sometimes you have to be a little bit of both. I guess I should first explain what I mean by be-er and do-er.

Not long ago Elizabeth and I went to Ireland for the first time. We spent a week there just having a lovely vacation except, as always, we ran into one of the challenges that we have when we travel together.

She’s a do-er and I’m a be-er.

When I go on a trip, whether it’s Italy or Ireland or even just going up North, I like to be in a place, I like to experience the sounds, the sights, and the “feel” of a place. I don’t need to go anywhere to do that. I can sit on a bench with a book and a refreshing beverage and I’m happy as can be.

My wife, on the other hand, she likes to do things. She wants to go on tours and see all the sites around. She loves museums and galleries and would even love to take a class on local cuisine or architecture. Between the two of us, it’s a little challenging because I really feel uncomfortable if I don’t get a chance to sit and be quiet and experience the place and she doesn’t like to miss out on all the opportunities that a new location offers.

The truth is, we each contribute something to the experience. We might grab our books and go sit in the hotel library for the evening. The next day we might go on a hike along the ocean. Sometimes we even split up so she can go and do and I can sit and be. Ireland, like our other travels together ended up being a wonderful time. We both got what we needed from the experience.

Networking is a little like that. To be truly successful, you need to have both the be-er and the do-er mindset when you’re approaching networking. Let’s look at how that plays out in different networking situations.

  • Joining groups or attending regular meetings for a group.
    The be-er: You have to be in a group for quite a while before you start experiencing the benefits. You need to experience the culture and the regular cycles of the events it hosts. You can’t rimply show up and expect to see the results you want. You have to be there for a while and become a part of the group.
    The do-er: You have to participate. You have to attend the events. It’s not enough just to have your name on the rolls. In fact, to be truly successful, you need to go beyond simply attending. You need become an active part of that community. Look for opportunities to volunteer.
  • Cultivating professional relationships.
    The be-er: You have to be willing to simply be in that relationship for as long as it takes, without expectations of immediate returns. You have to be willing to let it flow naturally — not force it. The do-er: You actually have to make an effort. Unfortunately, most people are not willing to go to the effort of continuing to develop relationships. That means that you have to be the one who takes responsibility. You have to be the one who calls and says, “Hey, let’s get together for coffee.” You have to be the one who arranges opportunities for you both to be together so that you can continue to develop the connection.
  • Getting referrals.
    The be-er: Before you get your needs met, you have to be with that person and establish that trusted relationship. That means taking the time to be quiet and listen to the problems that are foremost on their mind. This is to show that you are there for them as a person, not targeting them as a prospect.
    The do-er: This is actually a two-parter. First, you must work actively to be of service to them. Whenever possible connect them with the solutions that will make them more effective. Second, once the relationship is strong, you have to ask for help. You must expose your vulnerability. You must take an active part in this process of asking for referrals.

Remember being a successful networker is just like having a successful vacation. You need both the be-er aspects and the do-er aspects so that together you get the results you want.

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Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay