Networking HQ BLOG with Larry James

Monday, November 12, 2012

How to Cultivate Your Connections!

Plant a seed and watch it grow works when developing long-lasting business relationship while networking. We plant the seeds and then we nurture them, water them and feed them so that they will grow. This growth can take many months or even years. It all depends on how you cultivate your network connections.

plantaseedHow you speak about you and your business are the seeds. How you do that helps you connect with people. After speaking at and attending hundreds of business networking meetings and events I find that most networkers have never taken the time to perfect the way they talk about their business. Your elevator pitch or – what I call a “30-Second Connection” – is one thing but taking time to make sure that what you say will cause people to want to hear more about your business is another.

In general, some people encrypt what they say to hide what they really do. It’s as if they are afraid that if tell people what they do, people will run away. A recent example was an man who clearly sells insurance and what he said about what he did was so confusing – although I knew what he did – even I was confused. Be proud of what you do. Always you a “positive” tone when you talk about it – even in a down market – especially in a down market!

Be clear about what you do and how you might assist others in what they do. Let people know what kind of business leads would be helpful to you and find out what kind of leads that may interest them. Scheduling some downtime to sit down with a couple of close friends and brainstorm about how you all can create more interest in your businesses by more clearly speaking about them. I have found that it is helpful to invite someone who doesn’t know you all that well to sit in with your group – perhaps someone you might like to cultivate into a business relationship. Often they are more objective and may offer suggestions and ideas that those close to you may not have thought of. You will be surprised at how much more productive this will cause you to be.

I hope you truly love what you do because it is so easy to alert the kind of people you need in your network to what you do when you do. I had a man come up to me at one of my networking speaking engagements recently and said, “Man, you are so full of enthusiasm about what you do it’s obvious that you love what you do!” He asked for my card and called two days later to have me speak at his local Chamber of Commerce meeting. Enthusiasm is something that you need to demonstrate – not curb – when you speak about what you do. It’s helps people want to connect with you.

An important part of cultivating your connections is how you follow-up. No follow-up is one of the biggest mistakes that networkers and sales people make. That is the tilling of the soil. This is your most important networking tool. Be innovative about how you do this. Don’t just call back and ask if they want to buy your product or service… that is also a mistake. Follow-up with an intention of developing a business relationship. That comes first. Without a solid business relationship not much else will happen.

it’s the follow-up with your fellow networkers that builds the trust and ensuing business relationship that, in fact, can foster introductions and potential clients. Please do not be a gatherer of cards, and once the meeting is over, it’s back to business as usual. The relationship building is faster and more substantive when you have a follow-up plan and actually work your plan. Schedule follow-up times on your calendar. You can grow your community quicker if you will but follow-up.

Seth Godin said this about follow-up: “Two very simple truths:

1. Don’t waste your time initiating relationships that aren’t going to thrive and benefit both sides.
2. Productive connection requires mutual trust. You can’t empathize with someone you don’t trust.

If you enter an engagement filled with wariness, alert for the scam, the inauthentic and the selfish, you’ll poison the relationship before it even starts. Those you deal with won’t be challenged to rise to your expectations of excitement and goodwill. Instead, they’ll struggle in the face of your skepticism. An open mind and an open heart usually lead to precisely that in those that you are about to deal with. Perhaps we should give people a chance to live up to our trust instead of looking for the gotcha.

“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” ~ Carl Bard, author

Be patient when you network. Networking is like planting seeds. It takes time. AND it’s worth it!


Copyright © 2012 – Larry James. Adapted from Larry’s latest 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. 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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1 Comment »

  1. […] Articles: 8 Steps To Build Relationships After A Networking Event How to Cultivate Your Connections! Follow Up With Networkers Who Give You […]

    Pingback by Be In Touch… or Lose Touch! | Networking HQ BLOG with Larry James — Tuesday, July 30, 2013 @ 7:32 am | Reply

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