People do business with people they know, like and trust – the world over.
The more technology we use, the more we treasure our human connectedness. If you want new customers for your business, you must offer people a journey from stranger to knowing, liking and trusting you.
Growing and nurturing your network is the single most powerful way to do this.
A network is not your mailing list, nor a database of names, nor a collection of people who sort-of know you and will say hello at events. A business network is where you benefit each other’s business. Maybe by referrals or introductions, maybe through joint ventures or collaborations, maybe peer mentoring – the point is that both mutually benefit.
“Networking” means purposely working on these relationships at all stages. It includes coffee, breakfast or lunch with that long-standing business friend – provided it’s more than just chat! It includes your service clubs (Lions, Rotary…), business clubs or Chamber of Commerce – provided you use the time to offer value and deepen connections.
And of course, it includes that dreaded thing of entering a room full of people you don’t know or hardly know and trying to strike up a conversation with them. That’s the moment most people decide they are no good at networking.
I’m an off-the-scale introvert, and my brain used to be fully occupied at these events with “how soon can I get out of here?” Then I heard a bloke called Ron Gibson talk at such an event, and the light switched on. Not only did I need to learn this skill set, I realised, I could even enjoy it.
It has been a wonderful learning journey (still is), and I’ve frequently refreshed myself with more of Ron’s wisdom. I can now report that practically every client I work with, has come via my network. There are lots of tips and habits, but as usual I like to start from the principles. When I go into one of those once-dreaded networking events, this is what I have in mind:
- Who can I meet here that I can help – maybe with a suggestion, an introduction, or just a genuine interest in what they do.
- Seek first to understand, then to be understood, as Stephen Covey put it many years ago.
And you? If you want more success in business, start by getting to know Ron Gibson’s work: gonetworking.com.au/