As we saw in the previous post, the word “network” was first used in England in the 1550’s to describe a finished product, a fish net. A fish net was a piece of network.
When you think about it, a nice piece of network is about catching more fish, and as time went on, bigger fish. In personal business coaching in The Woodlands and in personal business coaching in Houston, I collaborate with many different business owners and types of businesses. They are all casting their nets to market their business, and in many cases, to expand it.
Some small businesses do not need or want to grow. Even the owners of these businesses still network. Yet, instead of doing it to bring in more business, they are doing their networking with their professional contacts, the salespeople and suppliers they deal with, to be able to be on the cutting edge of introducing new products at competitive prices as well as keeping a cost advantage and even supply of the foundational products for their business.
These businesses have a marketing business plan where networking in the community or at networking events would not be the highest and best use of their time. Their networking takes place in the form of exceptional customer service with reliable and competitive products and services that keeps their customers coming back and very often spreading the word and creating referrals.
I like to refer to businesses of this type as internal networkers. The owners are not at public events or part of networking groups that comprise many businesses.
Then, there are the external business networkers. These are the businesses that go out and personally, with their presence, hunt for new contacts and opportunities for business. As I said in the previous post, very often if you are in the personal services business, external networking, participating in networking groups whether it be the Chamber of Commerce or a BNI or other groups can be extremely beneficial.
Regardless of the type of networking you are doing, if you have the wrong goal, your networking won’t yield the desired results. As a personal business coach in The Woodlands and as a personal business coach in Houston I have observed what makes for successful networking.
Your primary goal must be to create a deeper relationship. If you go to a networking event with the goal of how many people you can meet you will probably have a good time, and in the end, not much to show for it. It has been shown that one deeper relationship will be of greater benefit than five surface relationships.
Your goal is to find the person that you can start to have a deeper relationship with. This is where trust is built. And, I can tell you from personal experience, this is where you get referrals from people who trust you, yet they are not customers.
So, the goal of networking is to find those people where you can develop a deeper relationship. And here is another key, great relationships are not built with intensity, but with regular contact over a period of time. Regular contact is the key.
And there is one more key component to successful networking. Be interested, not interesting. Too often, I watch people enter a conversation and talk about themselves and what they do without even finding out anything about the other person. This is an almost guaranteed turnoff.
To build a relationship you first must be interested in the other person. Only when you show a genuine interest in them, do you become interesting. Put yourself last and you will be first. Focus on the Human Being, not the Human Doing. When you do, you will have better and deeper networking experiences.