Thursday, January 04, 2007
The new year brings people exploring for tips to improve their business performance. Many look around and see that those with extensive networks of business contacts often received new and amazing opportunities in 2006. Thus, they decide that "it is time to network".
I often get asked by these "new" networkers what they can do to expedite the time involved with creating a strong network.
My answer?...You can't. There is no magic fast-track to cultivating real relationships with people in your business community.
That being said, the best way to start building a network is to accept that it takes time, money and effort to get to know people. Think about dating. One does not expect to really know someone after a first date. It takes a year or more before most people really know someone well enough to get married. The same is true in networking, you need many shared experiences before someone is truly a business friend.
Since there is no "speed-pass", you have to be committed to regularly participating in networking events, attending industry conferences, planning individual follow up meetings, and discovering ways to be a resource to those you meet. If you think that just meeting a few key people once or twice is networking, then you are destined become one of these bitter people who think "networking does not work".
I meet these folks all the time. They run around professing that networking is a waste of time. They are sure of it. They belittle those who champion the importance of business relationships and are all too ready pontificate their feelings. Upon further discussion it is always apparent that these people have never really dedicated the necessary time to "know" the people that they have met while networking. They have sat around waiting for the phone to ring, and then arrogantly dismissed the whole networking concept when others have not met their expectations.
Instead of becoming one of these grumpy people, you need to realize in advance that networking is not about meeting people and having them instantly refer you tons of business. That is what fools believe. Networking is not about just going to events and exchanging business cards (that is the biggest misconception, FYI). And networking is not about keeping score about who you have helped and what they have done for you.
Networking is about a lifestyle of discovering people in the business world with whom you can develop mutual respect. Networking is about looking for ways to help others and introducing those you know who could benefit each other. Networking is about friendship. Find joy in the successes of your friends!! And networking is about having a positive view of the future. The is no "I" in Networking (Okay, yes there is...but you get the point!).
Good luck in 2007!
Have A Great Day.