Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Building a Professional Network of Contacts is not "Part-Time"

I am often amazed with how people think about "Networking". One sales person I know says he "hates" to network, but has to go out to conferences and trade shows because his boss thinks it is a good idea. He says he never meets anyone at these types of events.


I asked how he could never meet anyone who could be a client or refer a client. My belief is that ANYONE could at least refer business. So I asked him how aggressive he is at conferences, and he laughed. He views them as mini-vacations. He said he enjoys the golf, not having to be in the office, and it is nice to get away from the kids.

How could you golf at a conference and not make a contact or two?

My guess is that he meets plenty of qualified leads when he is forced to network, but he never really does any questioning and most likely does no follow up. While he might meet professional contacts, he is not really "networking", because that involves both effort and the realization that it is a full time commitment to build and cultivate a network.

To actually network, and have it be beneficial to your career, you need to be actively making new contacts and cultivating the relationship you have with existing contacts. Everyday you should be reaching out to ten people you already know. This can be done with a phone call, an email or a face-to-face meeting. No matter how busy you are, you can make the time to reach out to people with whom you have relationships.

In addition you should find ways to meet between five and ten new people every week. Than can be accomplished by attending one or two business functions in your community. Most of these events are breakfasts, lunches or cocktails....So quit claiming that you don't have time.

If you met five people a week for a whole year, that would be 260 new contacts. You will not actually have enough rapport with everyone to build a meaningful business relationship, so lets just assume that you connect with one third, and add them to your network. That would be 87 people who you now know in your business community that you did not know before. Make it a habit for three years and you have 260.

Your competitor will be falling behind every year because you know that networking is not just for the slow days.

Here is an article I wrote that I hope you enjoy:

My new book will come out in July 2005. "Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Keep and Grow Your Business Relationships". for more information, visit

Thom Singer

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