This weekend, as I prepared for a seminar I will be giving at the SMPS Build Business 2008 national conference on “Building a Company of Rain Makers”, I ran across a number of blogs and articles that clearly articulated the path to success in networking.
If you are a regular on my blog you already know that I believe Networking is about helping other people. Most people aren’t successful at networking simply because they don’t understand how to effectively network. (Network Like and Introvert and Rethink Networking are two articles I have published on the topic that clearly articulate these thoughts).
It was great to see several experts getting networking so right. Here is what they are saying:
“In my opinion a lot of people have the wrong idea about business networking. They think it all begins and ends with a snazzy business card and a creative “elevator pitch” about what they do… My definition of networking is different. I define it as connecting. Meeting people based on who they are and what they are about not what product or service they sell, represent of simply work for. Though I agree networking is important, I believe people need to do it better and that means setting aside their professional agendas first to really connect with people as people first. In my opinion, if you do that, huge Ripples and often business will come back to you.”
“Relationships develop over time. Finding the opening for meaningful follow-up is the crucial first step. The ask don’t tell approach allows you to uncover meaningful reasons for staying in touch. Sometimes you will find the next step is simply to continue the conversation over lunch or coffee. Other times it is to send an email or to introduce the person to someone you know. Uncovering the follow-up allows you to continue building the relationship with people who you are interested in getting to know.”
“I define business networking as an active, dynamic process that links people into mutually beneficial relationships. Most people do not know that to be effective you have to network strategically, i.e. they don’t take time to create a relationship-building plan. They often attend events that don’t focus on their target markets… Secondly, I know that large companies have yet to embrace the relationship-building concepts that small businesses have long used successfully.”
Let me just add that I love how Lillian defined Networking as linking people into “Mutually Beneficial Relationships.” I couldn’t summarize it better…