You are not an empty coffee cup.

What are you thinking?

No, seriously, when you go to a networking event or show up for a one-to-one over coffee, what are you thinking? It’s largely your mental state which will determine the relative amount of success you experience. So, are you thinking about how you can be of service? Great! Or is your head filled with thoughts of making a sale? We’ve talked about how that can get in the way in the past.

Or maybe there’s some other mental trash that blocks your success.

Let’s take a look at some of the mental baggage we might be hauling and how we might be better off without it. This is the first of probably many forays into what you can do to throw away these unproductive mental states. Today we are talking about feelings of worthlessness.

Many of the folks who attend my workshops and presentations are “in transition” — some by their own choice and many not. It’s usually from one of the latter group who says something to the effect of, “Why would anyone want to connect with me? I don’t have anything to offer.”

I will admit, this mindset will limit your networking success, because if you truly have nothing to offer, you are a charity case begging for help or a manipulator and user who is only looking out for his own benefit with no real concern for others. Fortunately, this mindset, while real to those who experience it, has no actual footing in reality.

Here is just a short list of what you have to offer:

  • Your prior professional experience. You sold widgets for fifteen years. You have knowledge of the industry and how it evolved. You can say what was wonderful, but also warn about the pitfalls that might await someone in the widget sales industry.
  • Your prior personal experience. Maybe you’ve traveled in foreign lands or to exciting places in your home town. Perhaps you’ve had an organic garden or have delved into the world of photography. At any rate, there are those out there, irrespective of their career path, who might benefit from access to that knowledge.
  • Your network. As your network grows, you will be able to connect more people to each other to their benefit. Remember that you don’t have to buy from the people in your network to be valuable to them.
  • Your willingness to help. As a great networker, you know that your best quality is to keep your ears open for some way you can help the other person. Sometimes that might just mean helping them brainstorm a new idea, or physically help them with a task, or even just lending a sympathetic ear.
  • Your being a fun person. Focusing on the positive and having a ready smile and a warm handshake can go a long way toward being of value to other people. By just being a person that other people would like to be around, you can be a balm to the spirit, a confidant in adversity, and a cheerleader in victory. Just be a good friend.
Ironically, those who suffer from this limited mindset tend to be focused on the wrong person in the equation — themselves. They know they need something from their network (a job, a client, etc) and they feel like they have nothing to give in return. If instead they focus on what they have to give from the many resources they have at their fingertips, they stop being a gold-digger and start becoming a gold-giver.
Photo by Theresa Iovcheva