It’s the beginning of a New Year and you know what that means. The gym is way too over-crowded, Whole Foods can’t maintain stock in your favorite brand of organic almond milk, and networking events are sold out in a matter of minutes.
For all of us 24/7, 365 days-a-year hustlers out there, the New Year can be an extremely frustrating time of year, especially when it comes to networking.
For me, the frustration lies in the fact that because I do all things out of intrinsic motivation, I expect that others do the same. I network because I love talking about my company. I meet new people because I receive pleasure in hearing their stories. I go to events because I get enjoyment in checking out a new venue. I offer my services because I know I can help others achieve their goals.
However, the sad truth is, the majority of the people I meet at networking events are there because of extrinsic factors such as punishment from their boss if they do not go to X number of events per month or hand out 100 business cards per week. They are there because they want a free cocktail on their company’s dime. They are there to practice their elevator pitch. They are there for a chance to win the IPAD raffle prize.
Time & People
As entrepreneurs, time is money and the most valuable asset in our daily lives. 2nd to time is people and relationships. Networking is a necessity for entrepreneurs and something we SHOULD be looking forward to, not avoiding.
By true definition, “Networking is a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having common interest.”
As entrepreneurs it is up to us to bring networking back to creating this support system.
But How? How do we create this system in an environment flooded with extrinsically motivated individuals?
Be Autonomy Supportive.
A study conducted by the US National Library of Medicine proves that the power of choice promotes the experience of autonomy, which enhances intrinsic motivation.
What does this mean in terms of networking?
It means giving others the CHOICE to engage in conversation with you, not FORCING them to engage in conversation with you.
It means actively listening to what they have to say in order to offer opportunities that are relevant.
It means giving them the opportunity to listen to what you offer and deciding for themselves if they need what you provide.
It means encouraging conversation and self-initiation in others to do the same.
It means offering optimal educational opportunities for them to learn.
It means creating cooperative networking opportunities by introducing them to others you know
Be autonomy supportive in your networking, enhance intrinsic motivation among the attendees, and create a supportive system for you and your business. By doing this, you are bringing networking back to what it should be.
Intrinsically vs. Extrinsically Motivated Networking: How do you know until you go?
You don’t. And really, any networking event is what YOU make of it.
However, if we bring it back to time and people being our most valuable assets, then we need to be wise in our networking selections. In my vast networking experiences, I do have critical components that I look out for in networking events. If 3 out of the 5 factors are present, I politely decline as those are the times I find the most extrinsically motivated attendees.
1. Giveaways or Raffle Prizes
2. No educational component or program
3. No support of an online or physical community pre, during & post the event
4. Event capacity is 200+
5. No commonality among attendees
On the flip side, if a networking event has 3 of the 5 following factors, I make it a point to attend because I know I will genuinely enjoy the time with the people I meet.
1. Guest speaker or educational value
2. The host of the event is present and engaged
3. Event capacity is 100-150 max
4. Shared interests among like-minded attendees is apparent
5. Opportunity to connect and build relationships pre, during & post the event
Bringing it back.
In 2015, I am so excited for the true networking support system that Startup Soirée will create among the entrepreneur community in Baltimore. Through intrinsically providing a networking environment that brings together like-minded individuals to collaborate, learn, inspire, grow, and build a community where autonomy is at the forefront is something that is truly motivating. We are bringing networking back to what it can and should be.
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FOLLOW my company @EventsIntrinsic for updates & upcoming events.