I don’t come across enough articles on building relationships and then in a few weeks have come across two, both published in Forbes. I published one earlier and here’s the second one in it’s entirety by Sharon Michaels.
Hadn’t gotten any business! Were they kidding me? They expected people to buy what they are offering after only a couple of visits? Hadn’t they heard that potential clients/customers need time to get to know, like and trust you? What happened to building win-win relationships?
Here’s my advice: If you aren’t networking for the long haul then don’t bother networking at all. Frankly, you are wasting your energy if you expect instant gratification.
Here are five key networking tips that I share with my organization of women entrepreneurs:
1. Understand your target market.
Spend time doing your research so you can network with your target market. It’s important to strategically pick and choose networking opportunities. Plan to attend networking functions where you can connect directly with your target market or with people who can introduce you to your target market.
Success Tip: Networking that produces long-term business-building results is not about meeting a lot of people; it’s about meeting the right people.
2. Know exactly what you bring to the networking table.
When preparing to build your network, ask yourself this question: Why would people want to network with me? Networking isn’t just about what you are going to get, it’s also about what you are going to give to others. Take a good hard look at what you can offer as an effective networker. Are you willing to consistently spend time and energy building and nurturing your professional network?
Success Tip: Networking is a powerful marketing tool when it is a win-win for all involved.
3. What is your networking goal?
As with any element of a profitable marketing plan, you must have a realistic understanding of how networking fits into your overall business-building plan. What is your networking objective? How will you measure networking success?
Success Tip: Don’t go to networking functions as a wandering generality. Know what you want to accomplish, why you want to accomplish it and how you are going to accomplish it. In other words, what is your networking goal?
4. Networking rule of thumb: Give value to receive value.
A successful networker knows that it is not just what she receives from others but what she gives that determines whether she is building solid relationships or simply wasting time. The entire purpose of networking is to build solid trusting relationships—business relationships that are of value to everyone involved. It’s important to have a mindset that allows you to give as much in time and effort as you expect in return.
Success Tip: Remember the “Law of Reciprocity”: Whatever form of value you give, be it service or monetary, you will likely receive the same or greater value in return. Giving value, though, must come from an open heart.
5. Follow up promptly to develop and maintain win-win relationships.
If you do not intend to follow up with the people you’ve met, stay home and don’t waste your time, or the time of others. The entire purpose of building a network is to develop solid win-win business-building relationships. And in every productive relationship, the key is to get to know, like and trust one another. The business-building “gold” is not in collecting business cards but in the solid relationships you build.
Success Tip: It’s not just about what you want to achieve. Let your fellow networkers know that you want to support their successes as well. A key question to ask during the follow-up phase is: How can I help you succeed?
I’m going to say it again. If you are not networking for the long haul, stay home. Networking that will grow your business, attract long-lasting business associates and develop a solid referral base is about developing relationships built on trust and respect. Don’t waste your time going to networking functions unless you are willing to work at building solid professional relationships. Remember, too, that while some relationships develop immediately, others can take much longer.
Sharon Michaels is a coach and mentor to Women Who Want To Successfully Work For Themselves. She is also author of the popular membership site WomenEnjoyingSuccess.com where you will find monthly success tools for growing yourself, your wealth and your business. You’ll also want to subscribe to her complimentary Ezine, Unlimited Success For Women.
Photo by Marc Smith