To many people, business networking can seem like a daunting process. For some, just the thought of attending a local business networking event provokes enough anxiety that they avoid it altogether. The term “networking” can conjure images ranging from walking into a room filled with strangers to being cornered by a determined salesperson to trying desperately to find customers for one’s own product or service. Over the next few months, I’d like to present you with a positive way of looking at networking and share some of the secrets and advantages of networking successfully.
Networking is not all about sales. It is about making contacts and meeting new people: people who may or may not benefit from your products or services and people whose products or services may or may not benefit you. The point is that every time we meet new people, we aren’t just building relationships with them. In a sense, we are establishing connections with everyone those people know, just as they are with us. They might not need what we have to offer, but they might know someone who is looking for exactly that. Similarly one of their services might be precisely what a friend has been looking for, for months.
Learning the basics of Networking is a process. It is much more than passing out and collecting business cards. It’s about building and nurturing lasting relationships. Only by being genuinely interested in others and helping them succeed can we gain access to information, solve problems, avert disasters and achieve goals – not to mention gain qualified referrals.
With this focus on relationships, it’s important to remember that business to business networking is not generally about immediate results. It’s about really getting to know and care about the people we are talking to and genuinely understanding what they have to offer. Only when we achieve a certain comfort level will we feel confident in giving referrals to each other.
The next time you attend one of your local business networking event, don’t go looking for people who can help you grow your business. Go with the intention of finding out how you can help others with their businesses, without any expectation of return. It could just be the start of a something wonderful.
In the next article in this series, we’ll talk about some of the things you can do to nurture the relationships you establish through business networking.