I was inspired by an article I read on networking a while ago and it really put in perspective how crucial networking is and not just in the traditional sense of networking events.
When I started business development I naturally picked up the phone and started cold calling, after a few months of this soul destroying work, I needed a change and started networking. I had originally thought of awkward networking events with warm white wine and beige food where everyone st ands in corners trying to avoid eye contact.
However this article isn’t necessarily about networking in the sense of planned events but networking by using your network to make new contacts and strengthen relationships.
My main focus is on points 2 and 3 of this article.
- “Networking isn’t selling a specific product or service.” This point focus on the fact that people suck at selling and are better at creating relationships. To quote the oldest sales phrase in the book people buy from people and this is true. You will not do business with people you do not like. This doesn’t mean every client has to be your best friend, but it does mean you have to have a relationship on some level with them.
It is not just about networking events reaching out to contacts of contacts as “weak ties” in the article has been my biggest success at generating new business. Even taking to clients about my change in tact and networking they have been more open to refer me to people they know and the change in conversation alone has won me a new client plus a meeting with a potential client. People inherently like to help other people which leads to point 3.
- “Successful relationships are built on trust.”
Everyone has connections that they know could match up from a commercial point of view and like the article states being part of their conversations always helps.
Being from Northern Irel and everyone assumes I know everyone else there and always asks me if I know so and so… I am not on first name terms with 1.8 million people! However, like people buy from people the same can be said about six degrees of separation. I am now consciously making an effort to introduce people I know to each other who could mutually benefit from their business relationships. This is now the networking model I will be working on.
Ps I haven’t taken many networking pictures so here is a glass of warm white wine.. it is Friday after all!