Bedtime stories are one of my boys’ favorite things. Every night they ask for a “new” story. Well, we recently got around to the story of poor Hansel and Gretel. Okay, fine… we told them the slightly happier, non-original version where Hansel and Gretel trick the evil witch, make their getaway, and are reunited with their stepmother-less father.
In any case, the story got me thinking about networking… and how Hansel and Gretel give us some pretty awesome examples of how NOT to network.
1. Don’t leave an impossible-to-follow trail
Okay, so they’re kids and they were making do with what they had, right? But… leaving a trail of breadcrumbs? I guess it was better than nothing, but do we ever do that for our own leads?
I’ve often had clients who think that just building a social media presence is enough. It’s almost as if they’re thinking:
“Oh, we built it! Surely people will just find us now.”
Only that’s not how it works.
When you build a social media presence, you have to be on that platform for it to count. You have to be posting updates, making comments, and leaving your mark.
If you leave a trail that’s impossible to follow, don’t be mad when nobody finds it.
2. Don’t ignore common sense
In a wood that’s known to have witches, wouldn’t a house made of candy be a little bit suspicious?
In a similar vein, when you’re at an event networking and trying to make new connections, are you going to spend the entire time listening to the self-important fellow who can’t stop talking about how great his company is?
Sure, he’s probably just trying to get an immediate sale. But he’s missing out on the common sense of networking… that just because somebody isn’t an immediate sale doesn’t mean you should disqualify them from your list of connections. In fact, more often than not you’ll see new partnerships and more business through those connections than you would have on your own.
3. Don’t rely on luck
By the end of the story, Hansel and Gretel had some good luck (finally! poor things). And, they were ready when their chance came. However, relying on luck isn’t a reliable or good business strategy.
In fact, it’s a pretty horrible way to do business. It’s almost as bad as relying on that trail that nobody’s ever going to find because it got eaten. Relying on luck puts all of the focus outwards, turning your success into something that just “happened” and turning any failures into a sense of “the universe is out to get me” and victim mentality. That kind of mentality is always doomed to fail – and to blame their luck for it.
Instead, focus on what you can do, here and now, to network your way to success. Then you can have your own “happily ever after” ending. Just don’t push anybody into an oven to get there, okay?
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