Successful networking is about the relationship and not the event
When new to the networking scene, always keep in mind that successful networking = relationships. Your success will not be based on the number of events that you attend but the quality of the relationships you forge from those events. Of course the events are the beginning of the cycle, but the relationship is ongoing.
However or wherever you start your networking, whether at coffee mornings or at structured and organised events, keep the end in your mind, and that it is to form beneficially mutual relationships.
Over the years I’ve witnessed many new networkers making one fundamental and fatal mistake, attending too many networking events.
Due to their lack of experience, they have tried to put their business card into the hands of as many people as possible, under the misunderstanding that if as many people as possible know about their business, it will grow their business. Wrong!
Networking success (and ultimately business referrals), come from people who have met you, had a conversation with you and liked you. We all naturally want to help and support the people that we like, respect and want to see flourish. In fact we have already formed a decision about them (literally within seconds of meeting them) based on their professionalism, their perceived ability to do a good job (maybe supported by testimonials others have given about them at the event) and we’ve decided whether we think they run their own business to the same set of principles and moral guidelines as us. We like to do business with those who are like minded and we like.
However, meeting at an event and hitting it off, is not enough. You have to get to know the person to see how they tick, what their vision is for their business, find out about their dreams and goals for their business (and vice versa) but more importantly what you can do to help them.
My advice; gravitate to the people you like (for whatever reason personally or professionally) and concentrate your efforts on them rather than everybody else that you meet. Meet up for coffee to get to know the person behind the business (have non business conversations too). ‘Layer’ the relationship with more meetings until you really ‘get’ each other. Take time to discover what you both need and want for your respective businesses, this effort will pay off and you will reap countless opportunities and gain new business in the long term.
When they help you, reciprocate. Help them too. Networking is a two way street.
If you only connect (fully) with two or three people in your current networking circle, that’s fine. Scattering your efforts and trying to be all things to all people, is counter-productive and time consuming. Put your effort into getting to know these people well. Explore how you can help them and what they’re actually looking for in terms of introductions, support and referrals. Guess what, they will do the same for you.
Successful networking relationships are based on trust and mutual respect.
Remember, the event is the introducer, but your networking success is dependent on the relationships.
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