What is the real purpose of networking for business? Traditionally, it has always been about meeting people in order to acquaint them with your business, and hopefully, to solicit their support to build your business, or better yet, to get an immediate referral! The traditional goal has always been more about quantity than quality. How many people can I meet at one event? How many business cards can I pass out? It’s all about ME and MY BUSINESS.
Let’s consider a new approach. Building a solid business network is about building relationships. These relationships can be nurtured over time with careful and purposeful communication. If you adopt this methodology, then it becomes much more important to connect with people on a different level. It is more than a mere exchange of business cards.
Using this approach, you want to learn as much as possible about your new connection. You ask them “open-ended questions” in order to gather information about what they do, what their business is all about, and how you might champion them.. Now you are developing a potential relationship. You are offering your help to them. Perhaps you know someone who needs their services or another like minded individual to whom you could introduce them. It’s about giving. It’s all about them; it’s not all about YOU.
When you use this approach, something different happens. You connect with people in a meaningful way and people respond in a meaningful way. If you are willing to champion them, then suddenly, they are very open to reciprocate. As you continue to nurture this relationship over time, you create a give and take approach that is the basis for a strong bond.
Passing out business cards should not be the goal of any networking event. Collecting business cards from others and offering them a place in your network is much more powerful in the long term.
Cecilia Edwards says
Bonnie, I could agree more with this perspective on networking. For those people who just push their cards or gather the cards of others, they are wasting both time and paper. Nothing ever gets done with the cards because no relationship was started.
With a focus on establishing relationships from networking, coming out of a meeting or event with one or two new contact and some agreement on when you will follow up is worth far more than a stack of cards.
Equipping Businesses for Phenomenal Success
Catherine Cantieri, Sorted says
I couldn’t agree more! When I first started networking, I felt anxious and maybe a little desperate because I was focusing on myself and what I might be able to get out of it. Once I started focusing on others, I not only felt like I was getting to the heart of what networking is, I started enjoying it a lot more. Great post!
Dawn Billings says
Bonnie, not only networking is about giving, I believe life is about giving. You cannot out give the giver and what you give will always come back multiplied. If we really understood the giving was the most selfish thing we could do, we would run over each other trying to give. : ) Dawn Billings, http://www.TheHeartLinkNetwork.com women’s intimate networking in 3 countries, US, Canada, and Australia