Does the phrase networking event make you roll your eyes? When you understand how building professional relationships through networking is really just three simple steps you may look at networking in a better light.
Networking is the system we use to build relationships, both professional and personal. You should never really stop networking, it is a continuous process of the following 3 steps.
1. Gain Contacts: When you go to a networking event such as a breakfast sponsored by your local Chamber of Commerce, you should walk out with a stack of 10-15 business cards. These cards are your contacts. Now you’ve met the new attorney in town, several mortgage lenders, a couple of realtors, and a few interesting entrepreneurs. Keep all those cards (or use an app such as CamCard to scan them to your phone); you never know when you may need a realtor or an attorney.
2. Make Connections: From those business cards you should have found 2 or 3 people that really resonated with you. Maybe it was a person that is a potential business collaborator, a future prospect for your business, or you just really enjoyed talking to a person. You want to contact those 2 or 3 people in the next 24-48 hours and set up a time to meet one on one over coffee or lunch. If you don’t start to make connections you will never form strong business relationships.
3. Build Relationships: Over time you will connect with certain people many, many times. If you do this without an agenda, it is the core of relationship building. Meaning you should have no expectation of getting something for yourself out of the relationship EVER! In strong relationships both sides receive benefits, but it should not be your first and sole expectation.
Building relationships is how you form your reputation. That’s why I stress not having an agenda. If you only call and ask someone to have lunch when you want them to do something for you, that is the reputation you will form. Instead when you send an email, send and article you think will be of use to the other person vs a salesy newsletter.
From that initial networking breakfast you may ultimately only develop one long-term relationship from those 10-15 contacts. Building professional relationships through networking is a continual process. You need to keep gaining contacts and making connections in order to form the relationships you need to flourish professionally and personally.
Don’t miss next week’s blog, where I will address the subject of time management in regards to networking.
Laurel Fischer is a Relationship Marketing and Strategy expert. By improving your marketing and sales communication your business will reach new heights. At STL Interactive Innovations, LLC, “The Sky’s The Limit” in what you and your organization can achieve. Want to learn more? Contact Laurel today.