Networking with authenticity

Posted by on Jun 23, 2014 in Sustainability, Wellness, Writing | 0 comments

Networking with authenticity

*Scenario 1: Have you met the entrepreneur who you connect with, believe in their vision, and who you genuinely want to remain connected to professionally?

*Scenario 2: Have you met the entrepreneur who uses every hip word in the urban dictionary, feels slimy, grabs your attention and energy without offering real value, or just makes you feel confused and used?

Chances are, you’ve met both. And chances are, you’ve met many people with mixed qualities. Let’s face it, business does have a bottom line. Anyone worth their smarts wants their project to succeed. Even though it may not always seem so, networking is a completely natural endeavor. Systems in nature network all the time. They are constantly exchanging information and energy, in mutually-beneficial ways. Energy (in the form of attention, effort, and money) lends itself to energy from choosing mutually beneficial partnerships. But when you go into new networking situations, whichever side you are on, there are ways to be genuine and network with your integrity in check. You can use this awareness to value yourself while you network mindfully and sustainably.

Connect with your core. Cultivate the energy within your body by breathing in deeply and sending your breath along your spine. Your body has an incredible capacity for quickly assessing the safety of a situation, if you listen to it (and take good care of it with sunshine, fresh food, inspiration, resting, and daily movement).

Ask questions. Not the ‘how are you’ and ‘what do you do’ kind of questions, but the ones that can’t be faked. Put people on the spot, because chances are, if they have similar values, they’ll appreciate the depth of conversation. And if they don’t resonate with your values or even squirm uncomfortably, that’s also information for you. Ask what makes them come alive, how their personal journey led to this project, or if you really want to get deep into it, what this means for their relationships, community, and society at large.

Politely excuse yourself. You can always say no, or even better, ‘I’ll consider it”. Something worth sticking to will stick, and something that didn’t feel right you won’t have committed to. Anyone who doesn’t respect your boundaries is probably not worth keeping around.

Share your truth.  Tell people how you are feeling, especially if you resonate with their work.  Practice speaking with vulnerability, without apology, and with respectful kindness.

Networking can sometimes feel like a popularity contest for the coolest ideas. But done with authenticity, networking can be a way of discovering mutual interests, mutual respect, and the capacity to work together. I prefer to lend my energy to relationships and partnerships that can endure over time. That sometimes means saying no to events that may be fun for an evening but could leave an energetic hangover from people who drain energy. Not from going out and schmoozing, fighting for attention, and feeling less than awesome. I choose to give my time and energy to people and project who not only fuel me, but also have a positive impact on a world that works for all.

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