Collaborate (v.) – to work with another or others on a joint project
Network (v) – to cultivate people who can be helpful to one professionally, especially in finding em
ployment or moving to a higher position
I attend at least three professional networking events per week on average. After having attended so
many gatherings, I can gauge a room, scan body language cues and figure out the tone of the event in
less than a minute. I know who is there for the food and drinks, who is there to bounce from person to
person collecting as many cards or passing out as many as they can, and I also know who is there to truly
build business relationships. After a while, meeting so many people gets stale and monotonous because
few really take the time to learn the art of networking.
Every now and again I go to an event and after leaving with pockets and/or a purse full of cards I feel
refreshed. Yesterday was one of those days. I attended a women’s collaborative networking luncheon
with the Dallas-Ft. Worth CEO Space club. I wasn’t really “feeling it” but I kept feeling pressed to be
there so I went. I really wasn’t up for another networking event because I had been talking to people all
week. I’m glad I went because it was a refreshing experience.
The very nature of CEO Space’s networking is collaborative. I didn’t feel like I was there to meet
someone’s quota of fishing for X amount of leads or as though I’m being force fed a pitch to join a
network marketing company (even though network marketers are there). We were put in a position of
being servants and givers first. When meeting people, we asked “what are YOU doing and how can I help
YOU?” By leading with the other person in mind first, it not only takes the pressure off of you to spill out
a lifeless 30-second elevator pitch, but it also subconsciously forces you to think outside of yourself,
your business and your issues for just a moment. It levels the playing field because no matter if you’re
talking to a novice entrepreneur or someone who operates numerous multi-million dollar companies
you realize you can help everyone in some way.
Collaborative networking allows you to build relationships, not just gather contacts. It’s funny too
because the people who aren’t used to doing business this way are the first ones to clam up or leave. I
could tell who I needed to avoid because their body language said they’re not open to being a resource
to others. But that’s perfectly fine because those aren’t the types of people I want to do business with. I
help those who help me. I do business with those who do business with me. And this really is the way
business should be done. There is more than enough territory for everyone to stake their claim. There
were people in the room who probably did what I do (there’s no shortage of social media marketers in
the world). But what their secret sauce or their niche isn’t mine and vice versa. And if someone builds a
relationship with that person and wants to collaborate with them, so be it. If we can help one another,
that’s even better because now we can learn from one another and refer business to each other. But the
point of collaboration is to help each other build. No one builds a business alone. And I feel sorry for
those who are so competitive they shark their way around. Business can get lonely and eating everyone
in the pond only makes it that much harder.
Do you attend networking events to grow your business or career? What do you think about
collaborative networking? Leave comments below. And if there’s any way I can help you, please let me
know what you’re having trouble with. If I can personally help, I will. If I know someone else who can, I
will refer you.