Being part of SEMA is truly amazing because the organization provides its members with a number of opportunities to network. This comes in the form of traditional networking mixers, the SEMA Show itself and many of the membership programs aimed to connect us all together. I highly recommend that everyone put themselves out there and meet their fellow SEMA members because it will truly help them engage within the community.
With all of the opportunity to connect, I have seen one common mistake repeatedly made by those new to networking. It probably will surprise you—you may even disagree with me—but from my experience, I can tell you that if you can accept this one philosophy, your ability to network will grow exponentially.
Networking is not about what people can do for you.
Let’s think about this for a moment and really try to gain a deeper understanding, as I am sure the basic motivation for many people in networking is to meet others who can help them with their business.
Hopefully during your networking experience you will meet other professionals who are great potential customers or suppliers, but how many times have you met someone and the first time they reached out to you they wanted a favor? No doubt, we have all had to deal with that person in our lives who only called when they wanted something. They become the people whose calls you stop returning.
Networking is about helping grow your community together.
Instead of the aforementioned approach, think about adopting the mindset that networking is your opportunity to connect not just yourself, but other people in your network together, and make your entire network stronger. Every time I meet someone new, I think about how I can best help them—either by introducing them to someone who can help their business or giving them a customer referral. This approach is far more powerful and fosters a relationship in which those people want to help you in the same fashion.
With that in mind, here are some great things you should do when networking:
- Ask about their business and experience.
- Learn about how the people you are meeting strengthen your network.
- Ask for referrals and offer referrals.
- Introduce them to other people in your network.
- Look for ways to collaborate that are mutually beneficial.
- Buy them a drink.
Jared Chavez is an account manager at MagnaFlow. He is a newly elected YEN select committee member, who will take his seat on July 1, and is the chair of YEN’s networking task force.