“Needy politicians, like Bill Clinton, recharge at political events,” says Alter. “But, for Obama, they deplete rather than create energy.”
Maureen Dowd, The Ungrateful President, 8/8/12
Call it what you want. The ability to schmooze. The ability to network. The ability to meet new people, hover around and have good, meaningful conversations, the ability to network.
But it boils down to this. You’ve got to get out there and mix and mingle and meet and converse and interact.
So, I was reading the Maureen Dowd column, quoted above, and realized that there is a simple test to see if you are a “natural” at this or not. Here is the test:
After you have mixed and mingled for a while, do you feel energized, or drained?
If you are energized, thank your lucky stars (or your parents’ genes, or your God). If you feel drained, I’m sorry. But, even if you feel drained, you’ve got to make yourself get out there and do it. (You know – “just do it!”). There is no other path to business success, business connections, a better business future, than the path of being really good at making and nurturing connections with other people.
Does it matter where you do this? Not that much. Sure, some gatherings are more fertile for great connections than others, but you never know when that one conversation, no matter where it happens, will put you on the right path for the next breakthrough moment for your career.
It may not matter where you connect, but it does matter how often you do it. So, how often? Really, really often. Regularly. Weekly. More than once a week. All the time.
Consider these quotes from the terrific book (kind of the “get out there and meet folks” classic book) by Keith Ferrazzi: Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time (The Ultimate Networker Reveals How to Build a Lifelong Community of Colleagues, Contacts, Friends, and Mentors):
“Relationships are all there is. Everything in the universe only exists because it is in relationship to everything else. Nothing exists in isolation. We have to stop pretending we are individuals that can go it alone.” (Margaret Wheatley).
“There is no such thing as a “self-made” man. We are made up of thousands of others. Everyone who has ever done a kind deed for us, or spoken one word of encouragement to us, has entered into the make-up of our character and of our thoughts, as well as our success.” (George Burton Adams).
Sticking to the people we already know is a tempting behavior. But unlike some forms of dating, a networker isn’t looking to achieve only a single successful union. Creating an enriching circle of trusted relationships requires one to be out there, in the mix, all the time.
In one word, Connect. In four better words: Connect with the connectors.
So, what are you doing sitting at your computer reading this. Get out there and meet some folks. Today! And tomorrow. And next week.
And learn to let this energize you. Because nothing is more energizing than the right conversation with the right person on the right issue. Right?