Successful and savvy networkers do not – I repeat, do not – measure their networking success by how many business referrals they receive!
The smart networkers measure their networking success by how many new relationships they can connect with face-to-face and how many they can assist in some way.
The biggest faux pas is to be a gimme-gimme networker. People will join your network because of your connections and your willingness to share information, ideas, business referrals and more. They will notice your networking savvy and want to be a part of your network.
If you are doing it right, networking can be an accelerant not a deterrent. Some people I know skip around from one network meeting or event to another collecting business cards and looking for someone who will help them meet their monthly sales goal. That’s not networking. That’s prospecting!
You must give to get. Networking begins with the relationship. People will only buy your product or service if they like you and trust you. They need to know that you have their best interest in mind now and in the future. Introducing them to others in your network that they may need to know is important. It takes time to really get to know someone to the level of knowing what they want and need.
Don’t spend all your time networking. It’s important to find a healthy balance between the work your career path requires and getting out there, being seen and meeting new people. There is a big difference between good intentions and ulterior motives. Most people can immediately recognize someone who is not authentic and who is a gimme-gimme networker. Those are the people I very quickly cross off my list. I want to focus on meeting people who are givers.
Instead of using a “What’s in it for me?” approach, I prefer to network with people who are interested in both giving first and receiving second so that we can both help each other mutually. How about you?
You should never be afraid to go after what you know is right and what you know you want, but the best way to do it is one relationship at a time. Have meaningful conversations with people you meet, to really get to know them. Have fun with it. Be casual. Talk about whatever comes up. Give up your pre-conceived notions about what you “should” say and drift easily into inquiry… asking lot of questions. Give others a chance to let you know what might be helpful to them and discover new ways to find solutions for them. You never know when something you say may be the perfect idea that will help them in their personal life or business that they hadn’t thought of before.
Now, everyone knows that networking makes things happen and that developing good relationships is the key to developing a more successful business. In my networking seminars I teach people how important it is for everyone to – in effect – be a teacher of networking so that more people can succeed at their lifes work. Good networking isn’t about speaking to as many people as you possibly can, even though it might seem so. Effective networking is a reciprocal process and a forum for information sharing and relationship building that requires the right tools, approach, and frame of mind.
For a relationship to grow people must relate to people. It’s you they buy. Share your enthusiasm about who you are and what you do. When you think about something you’re enthusiastic about, it spills over and affects how you speak to others.
Discovering how you can best relate to the people you meet is a skill that must be learned. Looking for common ground, things you can both relate to is one of the keys. Personal disclosure is another key. Often by revealing things that are meaningful to you will be something that may help them. Having a conversation with someone you just met should not be idle chitchat. Get people talking about themselves, not just about their business. Build rapport, ask questions, and gather information. Showing a genuine interest in others is another key.
“Here’s the fun bit… you may never end up talking about work at all! You may spend an entire evening chatting to a whole variety of people and never mentioning the specifics of what you do or what you offer. What you will have been doing is making a whole bunch of investments that at some point you may call upon. We believe it’s fun to think this way because you’ll have a far better chance of enjoying yourself if you take the pressure off having to do business. If you’ve laid the right foundations, and focused on the relationships, the business eventually comes.” ~ ImpactFactory.com
I suppose the point is, stop pushing yourself and your business on others and focus on developing a more “giving” attitude toward everyone you meet. Then demonstrate that attitude by finding ways to truly give.
BONUS Article: “How Can I Help You?”
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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