Networking is the art of sharing and augmenting generalized benefits.
In this sense, it means growing and sharing resources and connections that benefit everyone.
The secret to it is that ‘everyone’ doesn’t just mean the person you happen to be talking to at the time.
Connecting with you is useful to them to the degree to which it will enhance their ability to benefit their own network.
It is as simple as that, so the first step to networking is making sure your primary aim is not self-serving.
When you come from a place of wanting to enact the benefits for everyone, including the people you’re currently interacting with, there will be a genuine human authenticity about your speech, and a warmth of character which transcends other limits.
These are the intangibles of charm and character, and merely the prelude to being able to figure out the maps of meaning that allow you to effortlessly navigate networking and enact various benefits.
Because networking isn’t just about you, or the other. It’s about everyone.
The value you bring to a conversation depends on shared maps of meaning, and their relevance to the current landscape everyone is inhabiting.
Relevance refers to their ability to positively work with the interconnectedness you’re sharing, to apply it in their own space and bring about general benefits.
And in case you’re reading this and rolling your eyes at the repeat mention of generalized benefits, keep in mind that business in general is simply the process of enacting systems and structures which are beneficial and create lasting exchange relationships with other humans.
In other words, beneficial interconnectedness, which is the secret sauce of every winning sales pitch, even in the most complex B2B environments.
However, in most networking situations this is exactly the kind of roundabout logic you want to let go of, in favor of a more creative and world-focused approach.
So what is the world?
From a networking point of view, the first layer refers to visions, themes and keywords. Don’t broadcast things about yourself or your business, and don’t simply ask questions about the other. A conversation is neither pitch nor interview.
The middle ground is the world itself, and to hold the world at your fingertips you have to be well versed in it, and well read, and thus to have quick availability of domains of knowledge and their current visions, themes and keywords.
For example, the major outlooks on the future of bitcoin and its impact on society and economics are visions.
The spectacular growth in the value of bitcoin is a theme, so is the development of Ethereum and specific blockchain applications.
More technical and in the moment developments are keywords. These change the quickest, and depending on who you’re talking to, you might want to change between these three levels at will, or stick to just one or two.
In general, you can approach matters of vision with people who have a high degree of human sophistication and development, keywords with people who are very technical and/or deeply immersed in a field and its developments (including completely nontechnical fields), while themes make for interesting conversation where the depth of the subject can be easily varied.
Conversation is also a give and take, so keep swift and varied, allow ample room for the opinions of others, and use your maps of meaning to generate questions that allow others to talk about the world.
Questions and statements are equally valuable, and can equally lead into each other, and should be interspersed with stories. However, this is not a TED talk, so keep stories focused on the essential.
Conversationally speaking, the best story is one that links the listener to something he may not have considered, but starts somewhere familiar. Hence, use it to connect a technical person to vision, and vice-versa, and so on with the various possible combinations.
The second type of map is the map of benefits. Most people might use the world usefulness, or usability, but that is not the case. Usefulness is relative, while benefits are applied to the setting and already accomplished in practice. In short, once you’ve opened up the possibility of genuine exchange by connecting with conversation, it’s not time to pitch your idea or project, but time to further connect others to the world through giving.
Have great knowledge of beneficial resources, of apps and communities that can change things for people, of companies that are making an impact, of investment opportunities and unfolding developments and/or processes/insight in the target market/field of knowledge, and share them accordingly.
Meaning in a usable way, with a compassionate outlook towards the other person’s time and abilities.
Generously but without overwhelming or appearing to do it in a self-serving manner.
Be truly beneficial on a level commensurate with the degree of connection built into the conversation.
This is why it pays to be a great conversationalist: when done with heart, it allows you to genuinely connect with people and benefit them, where otherwise the result would have been a stilted conversation wherein they would not have been able to receive much.
It also allows them to return the favor and practice generosity themselves.
The third map is the map of humanity, of people you know, or people you simply know about. The latter is quite amazing — you can actually beneficially weave into a conversation the names of people you only know from a distance, as long as the underlying layer of meaning has already been built.
This upends the very goal that most people network with, that of enlarging their own network, and increases the flow of knowledge and potential towards a much larger network of the unfolding human moment, as it is.
Knowing great people, beneficial people, is of course a tremendous resource, but simply knowing of people, and their work, and their impact, and having a mixed human map of people you know and people you know of, and how they all fit into the larger picture of everyone benefiting everyone, and being able to conversationally flow between these circles, that is what authentic humans do.
It removes the scarcity from your networking, and allows you to realize just how closely connected everyone is.
By simply knowing what some great people are doing right now, you can enrich someone’s life very quickly.
Mastermind groups are being formed right now, out in the open, as part of the natural flow of knowledge throughout the world’s networks, and you can read all their inputs and outputs if you just know how to tune in.
You can’t stop the signal, it is said, so learn to boost it by attuning your mind to read and build maps of the only thing that matters: that which is beneficial to all beings.
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