Many business owners and top executives have come to their senses and now refuse to attend networking meetings. They have attended one-too-many meetings full of salespeople trying to sell to other networkers: sellers everywhere, buyers nowhere nor business referrals. You can’t have a productive networking meeting with the wrong people in attendance. In my opinion, any form of direct selling at a networking function should be forbidden. People who try to sell early simply do not understand the relationship building aspect of networking. Selling at a networking meeting or event sends most people running, and they will tell others what you did.
Referrals come from those who know, like and trust you, not from someone you just met for the first time. It is perfectly logical that you may meet someone at an event and after talking for a few minutes know that they are someone you want to get to know better. That sense of connection is what propels you to want to get to know them better. Great. Don’t let the momentum die from your connection by saying “let’s get together sometime.” Arrange a time to get together outside of the meeting. That works.
By the way… there is no such thing as a network of Facebook friends or a quality virtual connection unless there has been face-to-face contact. Linking in or friending someone online does not mean you have an open invitation to sell to them. If you feel secure that your 5000 Facebook friends will be showering you with business leads you are fooling yourself.
In order to build knowing, liking, and trusting, you must build relationships. Just because you know someone does not mean you have a relationship with them that is worthy of your trust; trust enough to allow business referrals to flow.
Once more: Networking is about relationship building. That’s it. PERIOD!
Relationship building is really a great business practice. Relationship-building takes time. It happens over months, not weeks, not days, not minutes. I know. It’s inconvenient. AND it’s worth it. Welcome to delayed gratification. Perhaps this is to teach you patience. Most of the most valuable connections I’ve made were well worth the wait.
Perhaps you should stop trying so hard to network and focus on really getting to know the others in your network support system. For this to work… one-on-one, face-to-face connecting is the best. The key to building a relationship is in the follow up. Strong relationships cannot be built without seeing the same people on a regular basis. Most relationship building in networking happens outside of the networking group. It happens over breakfast or lunch or an intentional visit to someone’s office to get to know them from the inside out.
The successful networkers I know have a deep-seated commitment to be of service to others. They nurture their network by constantly looking out for opportunities (referrals, tips, business ideas, etc.) they know would benefit people in their network and pass them on. They share valuable tips that help build trust, recognition and credibility within their tribe and they do it without expecting anything in return.
Can you do that?
Do yourself and your business a favor and take the time to build relationships with the people you meet. Many of these people will become great referral partners for you. The more referral partners you have, the easier it will be to grow your business.
Copyright © 2013 – 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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