Building Real Relationships Through Networking : Hopefully, you have a clear understanding of the importance of networking and what it can and will do for your business. You are probably aware of the fact that the main result that comes from networking is successfully building relationships that will stand the test of time and that will be mutually beneficial.
The motivation behind building relationships through networking
When you first start out in a networking situation, your only motivation should be to meet people with whom you have strong professional connection and with whom you wish to share a relationship that will be good for both of you and that will endure indefinitely. Of course, a bonus in that situation is that the people with whom you forge a professional relationship will introduce you to other people with whom you also share a strong professional connection. The truth of it is that you are both establishing relationships so that you will become more successful in business. There is nothing wrong with that as long as you can help each other get to where you want to be. You should think about networking as getting to know other people and allowing them to get to know you. If you do, it will work out well for both of you.
There are several different reasons why a person should network. Networking is effective if the person is trying to establish relationships for many different reasons, such as establishing job contacts, forging relationships to form strategic partnerships, and many other reasons. No matter what, networking is an essential part of your business and you should come to terms with the fact that you have a responsibility to network in the most effective way possible for your particular business.
How people should network
There are ways to network in person and ways not to network. The first thing that a person should not do when networking is to simply hand anyone a business card without actually engaging that person first. The business card is a tool, it isn’t the entire interaction. The face-to-face, human conversation is the “meat and potatoes” of the connection and the business card is an organized way to be able to contact the person after the fact. You have a responsibility to get to know the other person as well as you can before anything else is said or done. You must put in the time and effort with the other person before anything else happens or any results are achieved. If you are not able to build a solid relationship with the other person, you will be finished before you ever begin.
Focus on WIIFM
When it comes to your interactions (and relationships) with other people, it can’t be about how wonderful you and your business are. It must be about how you can help the other person. The concept is “What’s In It For Me”? It must be about the other person. If you network properly and effectively, you will prove extremely useful (and valuable) to each other. Another thing to remember is that if you are able to solve the other person’s problem, they will never forget it and the next time (and the time after that and the time after that) that they have a need for what you are selling, you will be the first person who pops into their head. That is exactly how you build up your business.
Establishing a relationship for the right reasons
After you have established a connection with the other person and you want to continue to build that relationship, you will need to figure out a way to do that without seeming overly pushy. Even if the other person expressed an interest in following up with you to continue the conversation or to give you additional, pertinent information, you should wait an acceptable amount of time for them. However, if they don’t contact you for what you feel is an excessively long amount of time, there is nothing wrong with your contacting them. After all, your goal is to build your relationship and you need to continue on that path.
Make your best effort
When it comes to building relationships, you will not be successful (and this goes for all relationships, whether of a personal or a professional nature) if you don’t put in the time and the effort. It is important for you to understand that you will not be able to build a strong, meaningful relationship in one minute. It will take time and effort and it will be well worth it.
Quality versus quantity
One thing that you should be aware of is that it is not necessary to connect with everyone you meet in a networking setting. Many people will be worthy of your connection but some will not and that is perfectly appropriate. It is, however, important that you exercise good judgment and be as discriminating as you need to be. You have only so much capacity for connections so think wisely.
Building relationships successfully is at the heart of your professional success. You do that in two ways: in person and online. They are both critical to your success and you must make room in your professional life to do both types of networking so that you have a strong, healthy repository of professional connections that will stand the test of time.
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Michael Cohn is the founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of CompuKol Communications. He has over 25 years of experience in IT and web technologies. Mr. Cohn spent a significant amount of time at a major telecommunications company, where his main focus was on initiating and leading synergy efforts across all business units by dramatically improving efficiency, online collaboration, and the company’s Intranet capabilities, which accelerated gains in business productivity. He also reduced company travel and travel costs by introducing and implementing various collaboration technologies.
His expertise includes business analysis; project management; management of global cross-matrix teams; systems engineering and analysis, architecture, prototyping and integration; technology evaluation and assessment; systems development; performance evaluation; and management of off-shore development.