Sometimes it just a matter of
giving them a big smile.

Not long ago, Lisa and I were out running errands. This wasn’t long after I had visited my friend Lois Weinblatt over at Zingerman’s Professional Presents, so I still had that marvelous experience in the back of my head. We had stopped at the grocery store to pick up a couple of things. While there, I can only say we were underwhelmed by the level of friendliness we received from the staff.

Now, I don’t mean that these folks were incompetent or anything. They certainly seemed to know their jobs. The thing was, they just didn’t seem to want to go out of their way to be friendly — or deal with us at all. It was almost as if it were just to much work for them. It kind of left us with a bad taste in our mouths for the rest of the day.

This same issue crops up in networking, too.

You can use all of the right techniques. You can ask questions, you can set the goals, you can get their card. If they don’t get that sense of friendliness from you, though, they aren’t going to want to continue the relationship. After all, the basis for almost all good networking relationships is a personal connection — and friendliness is the beginning of that connection.

In fact, I would go so far to say that if you can’t generate that attitude of friendliness, then you might just as well stay home. Friendliness is what makes you approach that guy standing off to the side. Friendliness is what will help you be interested in their needs. Friendliness is what will make you follow up with them in order to deepen the relationship.

The next time you are going out to network, whether it’s an event or a one-to-one, pretend the next person you run into could be your next best friend. It’s just up to you to make it work.

Photo credit: Rick Hawkins