There are two kinds of networkers in this world. The first are the social butterflies. When you walk into a networking event, they’re the center of attention, surrounded by throngs of people. They’re constantly stopping to holler “hey!” at every newcomer who walks through the doors because, naturally, they know everyone.
Then there’s the other kind of networker. You’ll find us lurking on the fringes at any networking events, usually in intense conversation with one, maybe two other people. We might not know everyone who comes through the door, but you can watch our eyes light up when we see those few people we do know.
For years, I’ve wished I was the first kind of networker. I wished that I could make everyone my best friend with an easy grin and a nod and flit from conversation to conversation like a hummingbird. But alas, I was firmly the second kind of networker, the one who might only talk to two or three people over the course of an evening. This was something of a point of shame. I couldn’t do what other people could–I couldn’t make everyone like me, couldn’t surround myself with those throngs. But I could listen. And I could spend the time to get to know someone and show them who I was in turn and continue those connections online or over a cup of coffee or a drink, and over time, I could turn those acquaintances into friends, referral sources, professional resources to whom I offered support as often as I asked for it. And when that turning point happens? That’s a pretty cool thing.
Small, targeted events like Randy Clark’s infamous Friend Ups helped me realize that building a deep network is just as legitimate a way to network as casting a wide net. I may not walk into the office with a fat stack of cards, but given enough time, deep networking yields surprising personal and professional results. When utilized smartly, those deep networks with a handful of people truly committed to your success is more powerful than a thousand people who kinda remember meeting you that one time over by the salsa.
How does your network grow–deep or wide?