networking requires a new approach

The Poster Boy for How NOT to Network

networking requires a new approach

(Image from Microsoft)

We were at a business networking event, seated at a table, in the middle of a conversation with two people – one friend and one new acquaintance.

A man walked up. He didn’t wait for us to acknowledge him. He didn’t even let our new acquaintance complete his sentence.

Nope, this guy just interrupted the conversation. He handed each of us a business card as he started making his pitch. Fortunately, it was short.

He asked us for our business cards. One by one, he gathered them up. He said he would follow-up with us.

Then he moved on to the next table. Rinse and repeat.

Great elevator speech. But who buys elevator speeches?

No one. How often do they buy them? We’ll bet never or almost never.

And who wants to do business with someone who doesn’t seem to have a clue about social grace?

Does it mean he doesn’t care about anyone other than himself? We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say that’s probably not the case.

Is he just downright rude? Yes, but he probably doesn’t realize it.

He came with an agenda. He closed. He accomplished his purpose. Or did he?

Because if you were us, would you agree to an appointment with him? We won’t.

He may have the best product in the world. It may save us money or make us money.

We don’t care. Would you?

So, in the end, he didn’t accomplish anything other than wasting time and money. But we haven’t told you the rest of the story…

He never followed up! We haven’t heard from him since this encounter.

And that’s not even the whole story. We had met him before. We were at another networking event.

Once again, we were in the middle of a conversation with a friend of ours. This same guy walked up, completely interrupted the conversation and continued on through the same process we described before.

The old paradigm

Remember your ABCs: Always Be Closing.

It was a phrase made famous by the movie Glengarry Glen Ross. It became a mantra for sales managers to rev up their staff.

It’s what this poster boy for how NOT to network buys in to. It’s the paradigm of the past.

Yet it is still the attitude of a lot of people – especially sales people – today. You see it time and time again. Our poster boy is not alone.

Only we can’t just point the finger at sales people. We all do it. We get desperate.

Need a job? Work your network. Always be closing.

Need a sale today? Tap into your network. Always be closing.

The problem

The problem is that it doesn’t work. Your network isn’t a light switch that you turn on and off.

Your network is a continuous source of power,

but only if you treat it with respect.

You don’t show respect if the only time you network is when you need something. You show respect by tending to your network all the time. Now and later. Today and tomorrow. When you need something and when you don’t.

And there’s an easy way to do it.

The new paradigm

How do you tend to your network? We suggest that you approach people with a different mindset.

Instead of always closing:

Always Create Value

  • Create value for the people you know.
  • Create value for customers.
  • Create value for co-workers.
  • Create value for friends.
  • Create value for your boss.
  • Create value for everyone you meet.

To do that, you have to get your mind off what’s in it for you. Think about what’s in it for them.

The key to BIGG success today is to focus on the relationship. But it’s not such a new concept. It’s the way we used to do business, before the days of mass marketing.

People help people they know, like and trust.

People who really, truly get this will be the ones who thrive in the years ahead. So focus on the relationship. To do that:

  • Ask

    You don’t create value by only talking about yourself. In fact:

    The more you let people talk about themselves,
    the more interesting they will find you!

    So ask questions. Then listen. Give them your full attention. And ask more questions.

    As you listen, you’ll discover their interests. You’ll find ways to help them.

  • Help

    You create value for yourself by adding value in the lives of other people. Sometimes, though, the currency you gain isn’t the one you most need.

    As you ask questions, you may uncover a problem that you can’t personally help with. But you know someone who can.

    So connect them with the person who can help them. Refer them to the person you know.

    You score points two times over – with the person you’re helping and with the person you’re referring!

    When you do this and they know you didn’t benefit from it financially, you get a plus in your goodwill account.

    It’s an asset that will pay you back down the road. And probably sooner rather than later.

  • Look

    So you won’t focus on closing. You won’t try to gain personally. However, you should always look for an opportunity to mention what you really need.

    Keep in mind that what you want may not happen immediately. You may still be building the relationship.

    Keep building the relationship while you look for opportunities to talk about what you need now.

    Just be sure you don’t get ahead of their level of trust.

  • Serve

    An attitude of service will take you far in creating value.

    When there’s a problem, fix it. If it’s your fault, admit it. And make it right.

    Believe it or not, that’s one of the best ways to build a relationship. No reasonable person will expect you to be perfect.

So always create value. Focus on building relationships and the transactions, the referrals, or whatever else you may want will follow. It will help you reach BIGG success!

What are your networking secrets?

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