If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that business networking is about relationships.
Some say it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. There is a lot of truth in that, however, let’s take it a step further. It’s also who knows you.
Your value in the business world depends on what you can do for the people who are in your network of support. Thus, it’s important to carefully select the people you include into your network. It seems to make sense that the more people you know, the better off you will be. I have been careful not to limit who is in my network, but I am also aware that there are some people who I may not be able to help, who I might benefit from.
Networking is about people. People become your social capital. You need people… people you like and trust and who feel the same about you. People who are connectors; who can introduce you to the solid people in their network. Networking is about increasing your depth and breadth as a person. What begins as a business relationship may well turn into a close friendship. A widening circle of influence is an unintended result of networking, not necessarily a calculated one. You can never predict the end result of meeting just one new person.
No relationship is ever a waste of time because we can all help each other in some way. I may receive a business referral from you but may not be able to reciprocate, however, I may know someone else who can help. One of your goals in networking should be to know a lot of people who will do their best to try to help you when you have a specific need. Keep this in mind. You can lose social capital when you request more than that person can provide. Be careful to never confuse knowing someone, with actually having a mutually beneficial relationship with them. It bears repeating… beneficial relationships take time to nurture.
To be an effective networker you must be willing to help others without any assurance or expectation that you will receive anything from them. That is the true spirit of business networking. Give first and then you receive. Give the time and effort it takes to network without complaint. Successful networkers understand that a broad and powerful network is built over time.
Eventually the more people who know you will actually begin to seek you out. It’s like gravity. It works every time. When others notice that you are willing to help without expecting anything in return it becomes a force that draws more people automatically into your world. That’s when you can begin to notice that networking is truly worth the time and effort.
When you do nice things for others, you gain their attention and usually they will feel the natural desire to do something nice for you in return.
“If you are expecting to find a direct, immediate correlation between your networking activities and the dollars you harvest, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. … The returns you receive through networking are like the apples you pick from an orchard you started from a single seed. Eventually that tree will not only bear fruit but also spread the seeds that will ultimately become a whole grove of apple trees.” ~ Ivan Misner
To be a successful networker it’s important to treat everyone you meet with kindness and respect… not just the ones who may be able to do something for you. When you have learned the ins and outs of business networking and you don’t just hit and run from every group meeting you attend, but work to become grounded with a specific group of people, I promise that you will be meeting the right people at the right time for the right reasons.
Copyright © 2014 – 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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