I meet lots of people who ask me “Why do I network so much?”. They say they were told that to build their business they would have to network so they tried networking and it “Never worked for them!”. Typically I will ask where they went networking and the frequent response is “All over the place”. Wrong answer!! You meet a lot of people, try a wide range of coffees and build zero relationships! No Engagement!
To borrow from the Networking Bible, the 4 stages of networking are “Meet, Like, Know, Trust”. Too many people give up at the “meet” stage; “I went to the meeting and never got a single lead – I am not going back”. We all want referrals, but no one is going to give you their business or recommend you on a single meeting. Would you? Would you pass a lead, job or referral to someone you don’t Like, Know or Trust, yet? Don’t expect others to do anything different!
The truth is that the only thing which really works in networking is persistence. There are no shortcuts. Even if you decide a particular networking group is not for you (too formal, too informal, too rigid, whatever) then you still have to follow up on the contacts you have made if you want to make it to the next stage(s).
Your magic minute is like sending a CV – it’s to get the interview not the job. Remember it not always the person you are talking to that matters, it’s who they are talking to the rest of the time. Make a good impression and they might just remember you. Make a bad impression and they will still remember you . . . but not for the reason you wanted
People buy from people. Some say this is discredited by the growth of online sales, but when is come to services it is still the case. You don’t go to eBay for a bookkeeper and even if you go online to find someone you would still want to meet them and like them before going any further. You do not have to become soul mates, but would you pass a lead, job or referral to someone you don’t like? Why should they?
Use follow-ups to dig deeper and really get to know the person and their business. Take a genuine interest in them and they will take an interest in you. Try and understand their product or service and where it might fit into your client/contact base. By understanding their business, you will come across as credible and trustworthy; two very valued traits for any decision maker. Look for opportunities for them and they will in turn look for opportunities for you!
How do you gain trust? Trust is a major part in the foundation of successful interpersonal relationships. It is just as easy to build trust as it is to break it down, provided you are prepared to make the effort.
Could be teaching my Gran to such eggs here? If it is all too obvious skip this bit, but if not:
• Be Reliable – honour all of your promises. Trust requires that people believe you are dependable.
• Be honest -Tell the truth. Sounds easy, right? Not always. But if you tell the truth even when the truth isn’t perfectly pleasant, you will become much more trustworthy.
• Be open – Volunteer information. When an opportunity to be vague arises, don’t take it. Instead, volunteer information to your listener to prove that you have nothing to hide.
• Be discreet – Keep secrets imparted to you. No gossip allowed. You can only trust people who are discreet and those who can protect your confidences.
• Be loyal – This refers to your ability to be on same side, both in their presence and, most importantly, in their absence. Trust is solid when a person knows he or she has your loyalty.
• Be competent – Gain the respect and admiration of others by displaying adequate professional ability.
• Be consistent – Show consistency in your behaviour. Do not display double standards. Consistency in your behaviour indicates your ability and good judgment in handling situations.
That’s all a long winded way of saying Business Networking is not simply about meeting people, but about building relationships with valued contacts. You will get nowhere with a single visit or meeting! Follow the steps and you get Engagement! Colleagues working together for the benefit of all.