“This question that gets asked of me actually kind of surprises me when I hear it. Because as someone who’s been networking for years and years and just finds places to go all the time, people will ask me, “Where do I go? Where do I go to network?” And I find that interesting because there are so many places. However, what I would like to share with you is thinking about lots of different places besides the chamber of commerce and entrepreneur groups and meetups, etc. Actually, let me hit on meetups for a moment.
Sometimes we want to go to a meetup because it is a business networking event. Keep in mind that because networking is everywhere we go, anytime we are interacting with people, have fun with it. If it’s on meetup, let’s say you like to bicycle, let’s say you like to walk dogs, let’s say that you are a flower arranger. Like I’m just pulling things out of the air, but let’s face it. On meetup, you can go to just about any group. Let’s have fun with our net playing. Because if you’re in a group with other people who are like-minded, if you like to ride bikes and they like to ride bikes, you have something in common and breaks the ice that much easier. To go to some different events where you can actually have fun is a good thing. It’s a way to break up the monotony.
A couple of other places that we can go that we may not think about that I’ve gone to, I don’t know, dozens of them, if not a hundred, are expos. Any town U.S.A., you can find where the expos are. For example, in the town that I currently live in, they have a expo center. Any given week, at least twice or three times a month, there’s something going on, whether it’s the Reptile Expo or the Bridal Expo or the Tri-County Business Expo. All those different things. And the thing about an expo is, anyone who has a booth set up is a business person, and they need to network and you can network with them. It doesn’t matter what your business is. It’s a matter of having the opportunity to communicate with other people so that there’s the opportunity to collaborate.
Later on in the series I’m going to talk a little bit about not being too worried about what someone does as much as who they are and how they do what they do. But when you go to these different events, it just gives you a beautiful array of hundreds, if not thousands, of people that you can communicate with.
Couple of other things about places to go to network. I was doing a talk at a group called Vistage. A Vistage is a group that has CEOs of 1 million or more, 1 million or more, in annual income. This particular group was 1 million to 100 million in annual revenue that these CEOs and business owners were doing. And it’s one specific gentleman John was just wonderful. He was there taking notes. He was really there to learn. And by the way, for people who are higher echelon, I’ll just say people who are when we raise our game with who we’re networking with, a lot of the times those are the people who are taking notes and go into these events and go into these seminars are learning. That’s how they got where they are.
Talking to John, and John asked me, “Well, where do I go to network?” And I thought that was fascinating, because he had multiple businesses and he currently had a business in manufacturing or something that was multimillion dollars a year. I shared with him. I said, “You know John.” I said, “You can go anywhere,” and I just pulled this out of thin air. I said, “You could go to a yacht club,” and his eyes sparked up. He said, “I love boats. I go to yacht clubs all the time. I never thought about that.” Come to find out as I got his email address and looked him up online and stuff, that was actually something that he just did a lot. I just happened to pick it up. But he said, “I never thought about that. I never thought that that was a place that I could network.” He said, “I go there all the time. I maybe sit at the table by myself, but I never thought about it as a place to network.”
To change our mindset that networking is not necessarily a place that we go, but it’s just something that we’re already doing, always doing. John now will sit at the bar and he will be engaging, and he’s talking to people as opposed to sitting at the table by himself. Instead of him looking for chambers of commerce or different events like that that maybe he wouldn’t feel comfortable with or didn’t want to go to, I helped him to see that it’s places that he’s already going, that he already enjoys being at. In his case, these places like the yacht club, the golf club, places where people of high network hang out, that’s who he needs to network with anyway, because typically someone at the chamber of commerce maybe isn’t doing $100 million in manufacturing and might not need his services. He was already sitting in a place that he needed to be networking. He just didn’t see it that way.
For us to fix our reticular activator, and I’ll talk about what that is in the book two a little bit more. But when we fix our mindset so that we are paying attention to what’s around us so that we know, “Hey, this is an opportunity to network. I’m already here. I already love this place. I already love these people. They already speak my language.” That’s when we really take our networking to another level.
Don’t think of networking as a place that you go or something you put on your schedule, and don’t think of networking as going to places that you don’t like. You can always be networking in a place wherever you are. You can be standing in the line at Dunkin’ Donuts for that matter. But when you’re looking online meetups, chamber of commerce, when you’re googling networking, networking groups, just keep in mind that there’s other places like those expos where you can be going to find people that are like-minded.”