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When you network, are you shopping or running errands?

Five days before Christmas, I went shopping.

Not online.

Instead I got into my car, drove to an outdoor mall, pulled into a parking spot, and physically walked into stores.

I know it sounds radical, but while Amazon will next-day deposit anything you can think of at your front door, this was different.

I didn’t know what I wanted to buy.

So I went looking for creative inspiration the only way I know how: retail salespeople.

It was a blast.

And it gets me thinking about your Elevator Pitch.

Because so many people view networking as running errands.

They make a plan.

They decide who they want to meet.

They look for rooms where their prospects congregate.

There’s only one small problem.

That’s sales.

Now, I have nothing against sales.

But if you’re working from a list, please don’t call it networking.

Networking is more like shopping.

Running errands is going to places you know to buy things on your list.

Shopping is finding new stores, trying things on, and getting great ideas from people you met 5 minutes ago.

I recently followed a string of 8 introductions.

Each person was nice enough, but not a potential customer for me.

However, and here’s the key, each one introduced me to other people.

And at the end of that chain I did find a great customer.

I would never have found this customer on LinkedIn because there were no search terms that led to her.

So, if you’re working from a list, that’s running errands.

If you’re looking to meet interesting people, that’s shopping.

I admit, it’s uncomfortable heading into a conversation not knowing where it will lead.

But that’s the fun and the magic of networking. 

It’s finding people you didn’t know you were looking for.

My Christmas shopping took several hours, but with the help of several very attentive salespeople I did finally find what I hadn’t been looking for.

It was perfect – the perfect container for an even more perfect gift.

I never would have found it on Amazon – which made it all the more unique and special.

When you network, are you running errands, or shopping?

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