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How My Children Taught Me a Lesson in Networking

Networking should be less about you and more about THEM, and parenting helped me realize it.

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The following excerpt is from Ivan Misner, Ph.D. and Brian Hilliard’s book Networking Like a Pro. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

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It's important to connect and engage with your network via the social media platforms they use more than the ones you use. I learned this lesson in a very unusual way.

A few years ago, my children all moved out and were on their own. It soon struck me that I was communicating regularly with them using completely different methods. My eldest would not respond to emails -- ever. She wouldn't even answer the phone when I called her. I discovered, however, that when I texted her, she responded immediately. I even tested this once by calling her ... no answer. Then, I texted her ... immediate response. So, rather than try to get her to move over to my preferred platform, I figured that in order to keep a good line of communication open with her, I would mostly text her. It was great. We started talking more (albeit by text).

My second daughter wouldn't use email, didn't use the phone (to talk) and wouldn't consider texting (it was so old school). No, she communicated by the WhatsApp! Now, I had no idea how to use WhatsApp (I barely know how now). However, my wife pointed out that if I wanted to keep a line of communication open with her, I needed to download WhatsApp. I did. I still have no idea how to use it other than send a text to my daughter whereby she almost immediately responds.

Related Video: 3 Ways to Creatively Follow Up With People After Networking Events

My son didn't use email, didn't use the phone (to talk), wouldn't consider texting, and didn't use WhatsApp! What was I to do? Then, I realized that he is a big online gamer and he was using a platform called Steam (available on the app store). I also discovered that Steam Mobile had an instant messaging feature. So, I downloaded Steam and purchased a game so that I could instant message him. Yes, that's right; I bought a game so I could talk to my son. As crazy as it sounds, it worked. If I called, emailed, messaged him on any social media platform, I'd get no response. None. However, if I saw him online and messaged him, I'd get an instantaneous response! Success.

The bottom line is that if I wanted to communicate with my children, I needed to use their platforms, not mine. This taught me a lesson in networking. If I want to stay connected to the people I meet through my networking efforts, I need to go where they are, not stay where I am. It is another lesson in networking that it's not about me, it's about them. This applies to face-to-face networking opportunities as well as online opportunities. If building a powerful network is important to you, go where your connections are and don't expect them to always come to you.

Ivan Misner

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Dr. Ivan Misner is a 'NY Times' bestselling author and co-author of the bestselling book, 'Networking Like a Pro' (Entrepreneur Press 2017). He is also the Founder & Chief Visionary Officer of BNI (www.bni.com), the world's largest referral marketing and networking organization.