What is the power of your connections?
If you really get what networking is all about, you will find that the people you know in your network are opportunities waiting to happen. You are there to help them and they are there to help you. . . in that order. Often we do not utilize the the full power of the relationships we make when we network.
Never. . . I repeat, never take those relationships for granted. What you take for granted, disappears.
When you network, your intention must be to build close personal relationships that will help you – maybe not immediately – but certainly people you can count on sometime in the future. Remember, it takes time to build strong, long-lasting business relationships. Be patient. Trust is the key.
If you only network at network events, that may be a mistake. How can you possibly get to know someone when the only time you see them are at these functions? You can’t.
I’ve heard dozens of success stories from those who take the time to meet their network connections outside of networking meetings. It is critical that you know the members of your network and that they know you very well.
Recently a friend whom I had worked with at several of my wedding ceremonies called me to invite me to to get together for some conversation and coffee. I agreed to meet her and during the conversation I discovered that we had a lot more in common than the wedding business. In addition to getting to know each other better, we spent some time discussing strategies that we might put into place that would be of mutual benefit to both of us.
When you do this, be sure to keep the conversation on the uplifting side. If your business is not doing so well, talk about what you are doing to make it better. Talk about the good stuff. If their business is not doing well, offer suggestions that might turn the conversation to a more positive light. Offer to help.
Remember, what you think about and speak about, you bring about. People who focus on the things they do not want have yet to learn this. The proof is this: They continue to attract more of what they do not want. That doesn’t work for me. You get more of what you focus on most of the time! You will never hear me speak of doom and gloom!
What can you gain from a brief get together like this? Mutual friendship. . . not just business relationships. Really get to know each other so you can confidently refer business to each other. I repeat, “trust” is the key.
I will never refer my friends to someone that I do not trust. My referrals are a reflection on me! Nor will I accept money for referrals. Never! It is against my ethics. I have had several wedding vendors offer to pay me for referrals. I always say, “No.” If they are great and I trust them, I will refer them. If not, they get no referrals from me. Even offering to pay for referrals makes them suspect.
In these get togethers I believe it is important to talk about their accomplishments, interests, other networks they receive benefit from, personal and business goals, some of their influential friends and their specific skills. This is a time to share ideas, strategies that have worked for you and more. The reciprocal sharing of information that has to occur to maximize your business networking strategy is of utmost importance.
The better you know them, the more comfortable you will feel about passing along a business lead to them. There are certain points of information that anyone needs to know before they feel okay with passing on business leads. Referrals become a part of your reputation. You are putting your reputation on the line, so you need to be sure you can really trust the person you are referring.
Look for the people who are most popular in the networking group or groups you frequent. These are basically the people who have made name for themselves by being the most talked about. The more successful they are, the better chance you have of them sharing ideas. Truly successful people love to share. Make sure they are someone you might be able to help or that they might be able to help you. You obviously want to be associated with such people to get more business contacts, ideas and information.
Always arrive early at network events. Check out the name tag table. Who’s coming? Who should I look for? What company do I want a connection with?
Don’t be a conversation hog. Keep the focus on them. You can talk about you later. This idea is in line with what Zig Ziglar once said. “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
You cannot build a relationship with someone when your agenda is to only talk about you or to sell your product or service to them. You have to first earn their trust. You earn their trust by showing your value to them. This is NOT a time to ask for business leads. The magic question to ask is, “How may I help you?”
Networkers who are always trying to sell you something are raising “red flags.” They obviously do not fully understand what networking is really about. So… if that is you, let’s review the definition of networking:
Networking is. . . using your creative talents to help others achieve their goals as you cultivate a network of people strategically positioned to support you in your goals. . . expecting nothing in return! – Larry James
“I engage in no transaction, intentionally, that does not benefit all whom it affects.” – Napoleon Hill, from “The Magic Ladder to Success”
Take the lead. Invite at least one someone you would like to get to know better to get together for coffee, breakfast, lunch or ask when would be a convenient time too stop by their office to get the big picture of where and how they work.
Ready, set, spring into action! Make one call right now while you are thinking about it.
Copyright © 2009 – Larry James. Adapted from the book, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. Visit Larry’s “Networking HQ” Website; articles, tips, networking books and more!
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