“Good luck out there.”

The words were right, but as I walked away, something didn’t feel right about the exchange.

For the past couple of days I’ve been staying at a casino where I helped present a program on networking and business development. I needed to change a twenty so I had tip money for the return trip and was directed to talk with the cashier on the casino floor. There was nothing unusual about our exchange, really. All the words she used were the ones you would use when talking with any other human being, but for some reason there was something missing.

There was no connection.

I thought about that for a bit. I mean, I usually have no trouble connecting with folks no matter how fleeting the contact. Mostly it just takes a smile and a “Hello” to get people to warm up. This one, though, didn’t respond. Then it hit me. Whether it was the nature of her job or just her personal proclivities, she felt no compassion for me as another human being. While her words were right, there was none of the human emotion behind them that makes it a genuine connection.

This is why I teach mindset before technique when it comes to networking. I can tell you how to approach a group, how to carry on a conversation, even how to ask for a referral, but if you don’t first have a genuine caring and compassion for the people you meet, those techniques will sound hollow and, in the long run, even work against you.

In his seminal book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, Steven Covey admonishes to “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”. The analog in networking would probably be something like: “Seek first to care, then to be cared for”.

Beyond the techniques and tactics, remember that networking is first an foremost about caring and compassion. Focus there first and you won’t need luck for great connections.

Photo by Maksim