What NOT to do when networking

I was at a networking function the other day and was reminded of the humorous and not-so-humorous things that people do when they are at networking events. Here is a quick list of things that you should avoid the next time you are out at a networking event:

  • Talking about the traffic or weather is ok, but it is a conversation killer if it goes on longer than 45 seconds.
  • If you are not a salesperson DO NOT SELL. Remember, networking is about building relationships.
  • Don’t be an excessive name dropper. Name dropping once or twice in a conversation can be beneficial as you work to identify mutual relationships, but be careful not to name drop in excess as others might find it annoying.
  • It is proper etiquette to wait until you understand what someone does for a living before you exchange business cards. It also keeps you from looking like you are more interested in collecting cards than building relationships.
  • Limit your drinking; a good rule of thumb is one drink per hour. This keeps you sharp and ready for the next conversation.
  • Don’t give someone that you just meet a brochure. It makes you look like a salesperson rather than a future friend. Brochures are for follow-up.
  • Finally, please don’t look for someone else to talk to while you are engaged in conversation. Believe it or not people can tell that you looking over their shoulders.

Remember that networking is about relationships, not events. Networking is not usually stressful if you are focusing on building relationships and having fun. If you are temped to “work the room” consider a new career in sales. If you want to build mutually beneficial relationships that will help your career and your company, just be yourself and look for ways to help everyone that you meet.  —  What would you add to the list?

 

Building Relationships that Build Business

Relationships are the foundation of business. Whether it is relationships inside your company or outside of your company, relationships allow your business to either thrive or fail. Because of this, focusing on relationships is one of the most effective ways to improve your company and simultaneously build personal success.

Identify key relationships
Think about the relationships that you need in order to succeed. These relationships may include others in your company, your industry, or your circle of influence. Now take a moment to write down the top 10 people you need to succeed and rate the strength of those relationships. How you are doing? Are these relationships weak or are they strong? Most people will find a mixed bag: some relationships that are incredibly strong, and others at the breaking point. In order to succeed you need these relationships, so what can you do to ensure that these relationships are strong?

Do something about it
The best way to build a relationship is simply to help other people; not to return a favor, but simply because you want to build the relationship. Business relationships are often weakened by years of taking with very little giving in return. To strengthen a relationship all you need to do is help the other person without seeking personal gain. Some examples of this include: providing a contract lead to a client, turning your timesheets in on-time (for an overextended accountant), and providing timely information to others in the industry. The goal is to proactively work to make their life easier.

Why it Works
If someone helps you once you would appreciate it; if they helped you 10 times, you would develop a healthy desire to return the favor; if they helped you 30 times you would do every you could to help them in return. This is the foundation of a mutually beneficial relationship, a relationship where two people are consistently looking for ways to help one another.

Building a relationship that builds business starts when you selflessly help others.  Who on your list do you need to help today?

Something we all have in common

blue abstractWe are all born with an innate human need to be in relationships. I look at my children and can easily see how this need manifested itself early in life, primarily concentrated on the need for relationships within our family structure. As they have grown, I have seen how this need for relationships has influenced their decisions both for good and for bad. What has been constant throughout their lives and mine is the need for relationships.

Your innate human self wants to network

Almost 100% of people that I speak with agree that networking is about relationships.  So how is it then that if we are all born with a need for relationships, most people feel networking is difficult or even painful? It is because we have incorrectly defined networking as part of the sales process. Yes, it can produce sales, and it can even find you a new job, but that doesn’t mean that it is part of the sales process.

Not everyone is made to be in sales, just like not everyone was made to be an engineer, but everyone was made for relationships. So why not leverage who you are to your advantage? Remember, networking is nothing less than helping other people with the end goal of building mutually beneficial relationships. Networking is something that you can do with others from your existing company, with others outside of your company, or preferably both. It isn’t about attending the right networking event, it is about relationships, something that all of us were designed to do in the first place. When you stop selling and start truly networking you will find the joy of strong relationships built out of selflessness.