What Farmville Can Teach You About Business Networking
To get the full experience of playing Farmville you need to play fair. This means not cheating. Don’t use shortcuts that harm your friends or cheat them out of their rewards.
When networking for your business always be fair –don’t ruin it for everyone else. Remember that there is no wrath greater than one who has been scorned on Farmville – you will be blacklisted faster than you can get out of your chair and do a victory dance.
Kindness matters. Part of the appeal of Farmville is that you can play with your friends. Kindness is shown in a number of ways on Farmville but one important way is with gift giving. When you work on a project you are tasked with asking friends for gifts. Kindness dictates that you return the favor when they need help.
Networking is an interpersonal relationship. You bounce things off of each other and respect each other enough to stay civil.
How many of you can attest to the annoying status updates stating this crop has been harvested or this animal just had babies? You know you can unsubscribe to that right? When you share with people who want to know when your eggs have been gathered it is a good thing. However, when you could care less it gets to be a bit annoying.
Email doesn’t own the market on Spam; sometimes you get it via phone calls, text messages, at meetings, groups and even church. Scale down your pitch, limit it to just under 2 minutes and only share it with those who are truly interested – they will ask.
As mentioned before, Farmville is a social game so the more friends you have the more you benefit. You are given quests to complete which entails gifting items and helping out on others farms. Initially you might help because it benefits you but eventually you’ll help because you are reciprocating the help you receive from your friends. It’s kind of like a dance. Each of you participate in assisting each other out netting harvested crops, fed animals and completed challenges.
Think how this would look if you had a special circle of business contacts where you could help each other move forward in business. It would be great right? This is what the heart of networking is. It is why many successful entrepreneurs are part of mastermind groups. It’s not an “I’ll pat your back, you pat mine” relationship rather it is truly knowing your circle so well that you want to help them succeed.
Visit Your Neighbors
If you know someone who plays Farmville then you know how passionate people can be about it. If you play by the rules than you are welcomed, however, if you try to shirk your part of the deal you will be banned and friendships will be deleted. Part of playing a social game is visiting your neighbors. Interaction is key. You can’t expect to receive all the time without giving.
Part of business networking is caring enough to meet up with your fellow business owners. Chat over a cup of coffee, attend conferences together, or have a 5-minute conversation on the phone. Don’t push a sale on them rather find out what they need to move forward. Maybe your associate needs to delegate a task but doesn’t know where to start. You happen to know someone who caters to home business owners and hand over a recommendation. This is networking. It’s not about landing your next sale or next contract.
What’s the average time a gamer spends on sites like Facebook playing Farmville or Mafia Wars? Living in the same house as a notorious Farmville gamer I can say it is a full-time job. It is serious business for them. I remember overhearing a lady emphasize the importance of getting her computer back in time to harvest her crops while standing in line at a local computer store. Oh my, that is serious business isn’t it?
Much time goes into creating a faux farm with faux animals and even a faux family. People spend their time and money on maintaining this pixilated world.
The key point to take away from this is that business networking is work – it takes time to develop the kind of relationship you want and need to catapult your business into a money making machine. 5-minute encounters exchanging business cards and a sales pitch won’t work.
Show Up Often
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the despairing cries of sadness over crop failure and sick animals. It is important for gamers to show up and to show up often. If they neglect their farms their crops will fail and all their hard work and money will be wasted.
You can’t expect to attend a networking event, collect a binder of cards and expect that “networking” be over. No, you must show up by actually contacting the people that benefit your business or that you can help move onward.
Call them, set up networking appointments, chat, send an email and write notes. Sometimes you’ll be lucky enough to meet someone that you feel an immediate connection to. All too often though, it takes work to build that relationship.
Whether you can relate to my analogy of business networking and Farmville is not the point. The skills that you learn from interacting with peers and being kind and helpful to others is what builds the kind of relationship you need to move your business forward.
All the Best,