If you have every planted a garden or tried to start a plant by planting a seed, you know by now that it takes several things for the plant to pop through the soil. And… it takes time. Patience is definitely required.
When you plant corn, if it does not grow well, don’t blame the corn. Look for reasons it is not doing well. When you find the reasons, (and you may have to dig deep for them), take action and do what needs to be done. It’s the same with business networking.
When you network, if it does not work well, don’t blame the network. Look in the mirror! Most likely what you see is the problem. Here’s part of the solution. You must continue to plant networking seeds!
Keep the word “networking” constantly on your mind. Talk about networking to your closest “personal” friends and ask them to help you pass the word that you are becoming a great resource for all things business to their business friends.
It is okay to ask for what you want! In the Greater Phoenix area I frequently get e-mail and calls from people I have never met asking me if I can put them in touch with other people they need to know in the business world. Why? Because I have planted hundred of networking seeds. I am known as a great resource for people who network. When you are a savvy networker word gets around. I am always happy to refer others to the people I like and trust and who I know are dependable.
To me, being dependable means that I can count on them to give the best possible service and to follow-up with the people I refer to them. I am high on integrity!
Your ultimate intention is to create a following; to get people to talk about you and your business and to – in time – build the kind of relationships with people who will be happy to pass their business referrals to you.
But first… you must plan the seeds!
Your opportunity for success in networking is only as good as the number of “quality,” not “quantity” of people in your network and the quality of business leads you can cultivate.
Business leads help you generate more sales and therefore more business. To effectively cultivate business leads in your network and a networking group, you must do several things:
1. You plant the seeds. You must clearly communicate who you are, exactly what you do and what kind of business leads you are looking for and what kind of businesses that are in your network whom you can refer to others.
2. You till the soil. In other words, you must make a commitment to consistently mix and mingle at networking meetings and events to keep your business in front of the people who are in a position to offer you referrals. A wise networker knows how to till the soil and WAIT! Sell yourself first. Meet with prospective clients. You are the brand. You must cultivate brand value. You must demonstrate that you have an excellent product and deliver outstanding service. What can you do to assist the others in your network? You have to cultivate referrals from other like-minded business people who know that the more they give the more they will receive.
3. “Patiently” wait for the seeds to grow. Always remember, it takes time for seeds to grow and it takes time to develop long-term business relationships. You need to have regular one-on-one meetings with each member of your group. That is where the connections really happen and people really get to know you, like you and trust you. The more seeds you plant, e.g., the more referrals you give to other members the more you will receive. Just like you water the soil in a garden, you must nurture referrals from other members.
“Good networking is like good farming. You prepare the ground, plant the seeds, add water and fertilizer and time… then reap the harvest. The Wise Farmer knows that the more she puts into the effort—the more she gets to know her contacts and seeks ways to benefit them—the more she will realize in return. She knows that growing a crop takes patience and perseverance; you don’t see the payoff right away, but if you work at it long enough you will be amply rewarded.” ~ Ivan Misner
Stay engaged with relevant conversation about you and your business and do it consistently. It’s not enough to fill your lead pipeline just for today – you also need to think toward the future. That’s is why consistency is one of the keys to savvy networking.
If you’ve planted networking seeds, be patient. The same goes for planting good thoughts in your mind about networking. They will never grow unless nurtured and nourished with full understanding of how to network effectively. Although blaming has no redeeming value, if you must place blame, you will be wise to accept responsibility and know that the blame goes to the person looking back at you in the mirror.
BONUS Article: Premature Solicitation & Other Networking Nightmares
Copyright © 2011 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. Larry James presents networking seminars nationally and offers Networking coaching; one-on-one or for your Networking Group! Invite Larry James to speak to your group! 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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