Successful Networking; it’s all about the relationship

by Linda Parkinson-Hardman on November 22, 2012 · 0 comments

Successful networkers know that the passing of a business card or a brief chat at a networking event is just the beginning of the networking process. This is true whether you are in a face-to-face event or whether you’re online. The business success that a good networker has comes down to one thing, the strength and depth of the relationships they cultivate.

Let me give you an example; you go to a networking meeting for the first time and you meet a fellow new member, after chatting for a while you both agree that it would be good to spend a little more time talking about your respective businesses, and exchange business cards; so far, so good. Congratulations, you’ve got the first part of networking right. 

The meeting ends and everyone goes their separate ways until the next time. What you do next is what makes the difference between being someone that attends networking meetings and a networker. You now have to follow up.

There’s no point in waiting for someone else to get in touch first just because you’ve exchanged cards and agreed to talk more; the chances are they may not be a networker …. Yet!

When you follow up by getting in touch, whether that’s by phone, email or through a LinkedIn connection request you are sending two messages:

  1. The first message is obvious, it’s the request to meet and/or connect
  2. The second message is more subliminal, as you are letting the other person know you are genuinely interested in them.

This latter message is very powerful, we meet so many people on our journey through life and business who say one thing but mean something very different, that coming across someone who is genuinely interested in us can be very heartening. And, the more we can demonstrate our genuine interest in others and their success; the more likely they are to become interested in who we are and what we do too; so much so, that everyone wins in the end.

When you eventually meet up again, you will already have established a common, albeit slight at this stage, bond; this gives you the starting point and it is from this moment forwards that your new networking relationship can be built on.

Those of us that attend meetings on a regular basis understand that the more we know about the people we meet; the more we see them in action, hear them speak; observe their behaviour and meet to discuss business; the more we’re likely to feel confident enough to refer them to the people who may benefit from their products and services. However, we only feel that confidence because we have a well-developed relationship and are as confident as we can be that they are the genuine article.

It goes without saying then, that making the effort to build relationships with the people you can help, and who can help you is the only way to achieve that sought after goal, of not needing to advertise.

So, the next time you attend a business networking meeting make sure you have the time afterwards to follow up with the people you promised a coffee too; because remember, you don’t know, who they know!

Linda Parkinson-Hardman
Linda is social media strategist and trainer with Internet Mentor working with clients to help develop realistic, appropriate and sustainable uses for social networking sites like Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook. She is an avid networker both on-line and off-line and loves meeting people to share her knowledge and expertise with.

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