You can’t hurry…networking?

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If you want my business, I’m going to have to get to know you.  It’s important that I like you (or at least that I don’t dislike you), and I absolutely have to be able to trust you.  That feeling of Know, Like and Trust isn’t going to come from a cold call, it’s not going to come from a marketing brochure and it’s not going to come from you just handing me your business card at a networking meeting.

It turns out that Diana Ross had it right a long time ago:

“You can’t hurry love, No you just have to wait.  She said love don’t come easy – it’s a game of give and take.

You can’t hurry love, No, you just have to wait.  You got to trust, give it time
No matter how long it takes”

But if you look at how most people approach networking, it’s the exact opposite.  Quick handshake, impersonal small talk and a quick rundown of what you do.  A rush relationship just isn’t going to cut it. 

Effective networking isn’t about just showing up and it isn’t about the number of cards you can collect (or hand out).  You’re not going to connect with everyone at an event – and if you don’t take things slow, you’re not going to connect with anyone (at least not in a positive way).

You have to think big picture!  The big goal is to develop customers and referral partners who love you…or at least love doing business with you.  Getting them to fall in love takes time and effort and often that starts with meeting someone at a networking event.  However if you try to rush through that first meeting, if you skip the getting to know you phase – all you’re going to do is annoy and alienate the people around you.

Most successful business owners would agree that some form of networking is critical to their business, which is why it’s surprising that it’s continually done so poorly!

Remember…it’s a game of give and take.  At a networking event, you are simply starting the process of building a relationship with a small number of the right people.  Really connecting with 1 person who can actually help your business is a lot better than exchanging business cards with 20 other people.  Spend your time finding the right person or two (no more than 3 or 4) at an event and start building a genuine relationship.

You’ll be focusing on the other person.  Get them to talk.  Ask great open-ended questions that they’ll be excited to answer.  Be interested in what they have to say.  Ask them what they need…not in terms of your products or services, but in terms of their success…and then try to help give it to them.  In short…you’re working to become their friend.

If it’s a promising contact, then set up a follow-up meeting, connect with them on LinkedIn.  Keep looking for ways to help them.  Make a great introduction for them.  Point them towards a strong resource – do something to positively start building a relationship.  Make sure you’re following all 10 Steps of Effective Networking (especially the follow-up)

It can be  a lot of work and it’s an ongoing effort but the payoff of building a close network of great resources who will drive referrals to your business is worth it.  Imagine getting 50% or even 80% of the business you need from referrals!  It all starts with taking your time (not hurrying) and finding ways for the right people to start knowing, liking and trusting you.

What are you doing to help people get to know you?  Why would they like you?  Am I way off base here?  I’d love to hear your thoughts – share them in the comments below.

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach

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