Recently I was talking to a business contact who I have known for a few years, but not really well. I knew that I liked him and, if you had asked me why, I would have said things like “Well, he is always pleasant and he has a great sense of humour—he makes me laugh”. Over the last few months, for various reasons, I have met up with him more than I had and each time I have come away feeling upbeat. In networking that is not always the case!
A couple of weeks ago we arranged a 1-2-1 and before we started talking business, we had the “How are you doing?” conversation. Often this can be quite superficial. Business people put on their business faces and they talk about the good things that are happening. Occasionally, and usually after a long-term relationship with someone, with some people the business face can be ignored and they talk about real problems that they are dealing with and real, current challenges they are facing.
This is one of the benefits of networking that rarely gets talked about, the business relationships that become so secure and the people so confident in each other that they know that they will not be judged, they will be supported, and they can be confident that the issues shared will not make it on to the 10 o’clock news. In business it can seem at times as if you are alone, and are not sure where you can go for support, or if you should just keep it all to yourself.
When I met this contact, who I did not know well, I was sort of expecting a low-key and slightly superficial kind of ‘business-focussed’ chat. But this was not what happened. When I asked how he was he said, “I am dealing with some real problems, and I don’t know where to turn”. Over the next hour he poured out all the issues, side issues, what he’s done, what he’s thought of doing, what had helped and what had not. Then we worked together to work out some possible solutions, we identified some people who might be able to offer some practical help and we arranged a date when we would meet and catch up again.
This time it was him with the challenges the next time it could be me who needs someone to help. If you need help and you think it might help to talk, then get in touch. If you would like some help with your networking here’s my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips. Just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.