Successful networking creates long term relationships that pay dividends over and over again. The key to successful networking is to be genuinely interested in other people. That is what resonates with people and makes them want to do business with you.
Have you ever heard the saying ďI donít care how much you know until I know how much you careĒ?
The key to growing your business is genuinely caring about others. People see through someone whoís transparent. Think about it Ė havenít you met people who acted like they were interested in what you had to say? You knew in your heart that they werenít really paying attention, didnít you? They had an agenda and it was apparent. Youíve probably been called on by that kind of salesperson. You knew they didnít care. So, did you really care how much they knew? Or rather, did you connect with the person who paid attention to you? The person who took the time to understand what your needs were, and then, offered a solution.
So, how do you grow your business sincerely?
It takes less effort to be yourself than it does to create a persona. Besides, people can see the mask a hundred miles away. Their guard will be up before you realize it. Why? Because your focus is off. Itís on you (or I should say, on your creation of you) Ė not on them.
Be genuinely interested in others
Learn all you can about them. Find out if there are ways you can help them; have a positive impact on their day. DONíT sell them. People donít like being sold Ė do you? People DO like to feel respected. They want to know you have their best interest at heart. Itís something you canít fake.
Be a giver
Donít focus on what you want to get. Focus on what you can give. ĎWhat goes around, comes around.í ĎThe smile you send out returns to you.í Sound familiar?
Itís not a numbers game
Effective business growth centers on relationship building. When you are genuinely interested in others, you are building a relationship. When youíre giving, you are building a relationship. You are building trust. Then people realize they can count on you. They know youíll help them if you can. They, in turn, will want to help you. Itís symbiotic.
You canít build relationships if your focus is on meeting as many people as possible. Blitzing doesnít work. Of course, youíll have loads of business cards. You may even feel like youíve accomplished a great deal. After the blitzing and card gathering, what do you actually know about these people? What are their needs, likes, dislikes, goals? Do you know how you can help them? Why would they do business with you?
You may not have thought about it, but you really donít want to do business with EVERYBODY. There are people out there you just arenít going to click with. As my grandmother used to say, ĎThatís what makes horse races.í Another reason why growing your business is not about numbers, itís about relationships.
Have a plan
Plan to meet 1-2 people and learn something about them and their business.
Be prepared with a couple of open-ended questions. Be prepared, but not overly focused. The conversation needs to flow. Once youíve asked a question, ride it to where it naturally takes you. If youíre busy anticipating asking your next question, youíve missed their answer!
When it goes well, suggest a next meeting in the near future. Donít expect to make concrete plans. Just float the suggestion and see where it goes.
Finally, follow up that first meeting with an email, handwritten note, or phone call. Remember, youíre building a relationship. The key word here is building.
Websterís definition of sincerity is Ďhonesty of mind.í Honesty of mind; being yourself. What could be easier? Thatís really what growing your business sincerely and building relationships with substance are all about. You will find that you wonít have to work as hard at keeping your customers because theyíll be interested in partnering with you.
Diane Helbig is a professional coach and the president of Seize This Day Coaching. She works with small business owners, entrepreneurs, and salespeople, helping them create successful business development strategies.