If you are into instant gratification, you will very quickly become disenchanted and disappointed when networking.
Why? Because networking is about building relationships and that takes time. The ability to create and maintain strong professional relationships is an important key to business success. Sometimes you meet people and just instantly bond, however that doesn’t happen very often.
Most people have a reluctance to give information, ideas, resources, updates, advice, vendor recommendations, encouragement and leads to someone they first meet. People only do business with people they like and trust. Until you reach that point there is seldom a willingness to share much more than pleasantries.
It takes time to build a relationship, but the payoff is tremendous. Networking provides you with the opportunity to work smarter, not harder. It’s important to be persistent and approach meeting new people with the “how may I help you” attitude. Get to know as many people as possible, and make sure they get to know you and what you can do for them.
A network is not a collection of business cards, but of people. Take the time to understand the business of those in your network. Obviously you will not form a strategic alliance with everyone you meet, but remember they may know people that could be an important connection for you. Never rule anyone out on your fir meeting; you never know when someone will be able to help you, or when you will be able to help them.
“Evaluate the value of each contact. Once you have the preliminary contact information, you need to decide if this person is worth meeting again and creating a relationship with.” ~ Steven Krauser, Founder and President of Network Associates
It’s also wise to periodically reevaluate the people in your network. Some people are in networking for what it can do for them. That’s selfish. Networking is about sharing – about giving and getting – sharing ideas and information about business. Attend lots of business events, conferences, training days, exhibitions, networking events and any event where business people are gathered.
Helping others in your network will quickly establish yourself as an expert in your field. Other ways include writing articles or by being available to talk to journalists or do an occasional radio interview or TV appearance. If you and your business are in the news, people will want to talk to you.
Being persistent is about “doing,” even as we wait patiently for a relationship to mature. Having both patience and persistence is about maintaining the concentration to stay poised in a state between movement and stillness. Always be networking. Walk right up wearing a smile, give a firm handshake and introduce yourself. You are not there to talk, tell about your product or sell, but to listen. Once you know more about them, ask, “How can I help you?”. Your first meeting should always focus on them. If they are someone you want to know better… follow up promptly.
Unfaltering perseverance in networking takes grit. It requires commitment, hard work, patience, and endurance. It is so easy to give up just before you come to the finish line. A big part of business networking is believing you can do it and realizing that it’s not going to happen overnight. You must have faith in a good outcome. Never give up. Believe me… it’s worth it.
Networking is the vital business skill that lets you cultivate lasting business relationships and create a large center of influence – an inner circle – from which you can find new clients, contacts, referrals and opportunities. AND it takes perseverance, persistence and patience.
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 Networking 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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