Consider this scenario:
Joe has a full load of great clients and doesn’t believe he has a need to network. He’s so busy working with those clients that he doesn’t notice when some of them start leaving. One day he realizes he’s down significantly. So, he decides it’s time to network.
The belief is that he can jump into attending events and gain clients right away. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. So many people expect to quickly sell at a networking event and are then disappointed when they don’t have new business rolling in.
Networking is a process that when done correctly eventually leads to business growth. The key is to embrace the understanding that networking is about relationship building, not selling. It sounds counterintuitive. However, when you think about experiences you’ve had when networking you know its true. Whenever you meet someone at an event who spends all their time telling you about their product or service they are in sales mode. They try to convince you that you need what they offer. They are really focused on making a sale, bringing in revenue, but not on providing solutions. And, you don't like it. So, don't do it to other people.
Networking is an investment of time and attention. You are looking for meaningful business relationships that will serve your business over time. And it takes time to get to know the people you meet; to determine how much you trust them and their client services. So, your focus should be on learning, not selling. If you wait until you need revenue you will be under a lot of stress. And, you will telegraph that stress to the people you meet. It’ll feel like desperation to them. Truth is, no one wants to work with someone who is desperate. It doesn’t make you feel confident about their ability to serve your needs.
So, what do you do?
Network all the time. You may change where you go, but don’t stop! Find events and organizations where you feel a connection and are genuinely interested in getting to know the other attendees/members.
Get involved. Volunteer, join a committee, attend events. You’ll get out of it what you put into it. No one owes you referrals simply because you attend, or join. You have to engage and build relationships.
Be genuinely curious. Forget about selling. Focus on learning about others. You’ll enjoy yourself and others will enjoy being around you. You’ll be more natural – more YOU!
When you adopt a practice of continuous networking you will never be in a position of scarcity. The relationships you build will consistently add value in a variety of ways. Give it a shot! I’m pretty confident you’ll quickly realize the time and attention is well worth the effort.
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