Who makes a good networking partner?
Photo by Ned Horton
The trick is to find a wingman, not a wet blanket.
So, how do you figure out if someone will be a good partner?
- First of all, make sure the partner fits the venue and vice-versa. You want the experience to be valuable for the other person. If they are trying to focus on international import/export firms, probably the local Chamber won't be as useful for them as it is for you.
- Choose from your networking connections with whom you've had at least one or two one-to-one meetings. If you haven't met with them at least a couple of times, then you won't have enough familiarity with their networking goals to know if the venue is appropriate.
- Choose from your connections whom you have worked with or met with recently. Your goal is to work together as a team to meet other people. If you haven't spoken in a while, you will be tempted to spend all of your time chatting with each other and catching up instead of making new connections.
- You'll definitely want someone who shares your networking beliefs. If you are both working toward the same ultimate goal of extending your network through serving others, you are likely to find success. If your erstwhile partner is looking to land a signed contract, you might be better off working alone.
- You must be able to trust them with at least the little things. Now, your relationship may not have progressed to the point where you are comfortable lending them your car, but you at least need to know that you can trust them to show up on time and be presentable.
Remember that most of the time you will only attend one or two events with a given partner. These are going to primarily be for the purpose of one of you introducing the other to a new networking venue. Conceivably, though, there is nothing standing in the way of having a regular networking partner. They could help you keep on track with your networking practice, just as you might have a workout partner to help you keep on track with your fitness goals.
Now you just have to look through your address book and send out an invitation or two to plan on tackling the networking world together.
Greg Peters, founder of The Reluctant Networker LLC, writes, speaks and coaches about good networking practice. For more tips that can help your connections count, go to 52-tips.thereluctantnetworker.com.