To some people networking comes naturally. You’ll see these people at conferences and networking events going around shaking hands, introducing themselves to anyone that will listen and handing out business cards to those people they find interesting. All the while, you stand on the sidelines simply watching the action, feeling too shy or unimportant to do the same.
Some people just aren’t natural networkers. You might be quite introverted, shy or perhaps you have some deep misgivings about the concept of “networking.” Perhaps it seems fake to you. You may think it will mean “using” people. You may think that networking is unethical, sleazy, slimy, manipulative, dishonest and doesn’t really work. It doesn’t mean that at all. No matter, you can still keep up friendships and make new contacts – without having to resort to some of the tactics some would call “sleazy marketing”.
There is the sleazy underhanded way to network your business and the correct way to network. There are, however, lots of people who give business networking a bad name. Why? Because they have not yet learned that networking is not primarily about consistently pitching your business. They come across as desperate. You will always see a few of these people at every networking event in your city.
These people are fakes. They hand “everyone” a business card – whether they want it or not – and collect pockets full of business cards and the next day they are on the phone or spamming your e-mail address with another pitch about their business. A business card does not a relationship make! We call these people hustlers! They have a “what’s in it for me?” attitude. They are time wasters. They network by looking for immediate gain.
They need to educate themselves first before ever entering the doors of a networking event. One of the main drawbacks of networking are some of the people who network. Many are in multi-level marketing or network marketing and do their best to recruit you to be in business with them. I’m not knocking multi-level marketing, just the way some people think that others who network are going to go into business with a total stranger. They don’t need to resort to these unprofessional tactics to make them a business partner.
Are you kidding? They try to sell their products or their business opportunity to anyone who breathes, regardless of whether they want to hear about it. At first meeting, they don’t know me well enough to ask me to go into business with them. I was once very active in MLM and quite successful, I might add but common sense says that you have to like and trust someone you choose to be in business with. Get real. That rarely happens upon one meeting. To me, MLM and real business networking are like oil and water. They don’t mix.
Sorry. . . didn’t mean for this to be a rant. Although, having said this, I do feel better that it got said.
So. . . what is networking really about? It’s about building long-term relationships; the kind of relationships where – over time – you become friends and learn to like and trust each other. give and receive genuine business leads. Networking is a long term project. Business networking is leveraging your business and personal connections to bring you a regular supply of new business. Business networking is much more than showing up at networking functions, shaking a lot of hands and collecting a bunch of cards.
Networking your business means you have to be proactive. The core of networking is doing something specific each week that is focused on networking for business growth. Business networking is the process of establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with other business people and potential clients and/or customers.
Notice that I didn’t say anything about meeting people in this definition; the ever-increasing slew of business networking meet-and-greet events have given business networking a bad name. The best business networking groups operate as exchanges of business information, ideas, and support.
To get the most out of your networking experience, you need to build a relationship with people who you want to have contact with. The most important skill for effective business networking is listening; focusing on how you can help the person you are listening to rather than on how he or she can help you is the first step to establishing a mutually beneficial relationship.
In today’s business environment, it is important for people to share information and resources in an efficient and cost effective manner. I have found that business networking is the best way to do this.
What say you? Your comments are always welcome and encouraged!
Copyright © 2010 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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