Creating Solid Networking Relationships

We serve to create solid relationships with people in our lives when we set about to make three things happen, and can be distilled down into three simple words: Know, Like & Trust.

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You build relationships when you get people to know you and you get to know others;

You build relationships when you get the people you know to like you; and You build relationships when you do the things that allow other people to trust you.

Here is a simple reality, people do business with people they Know, Like & Trust. You do business with people you Know, Like & Trust. All things being equal, you will do business with someone you Know, Like & Trust.

All things being equal, you likely have the accountant, banker, or financial planner in your life because you Know, Like & Trust them In fact, all things being unequal, you would still opt to do business with the person you Know, Like, & Trust. Think about it. If you have automobile insurance, there is no question you could find the same coverage for less. Yet, you stay with the same agent. Why? You Know, Like & Trust the person.

Know, Like & Trust is a powerful component of human nature. If you can get people coming to that conclusion that they Know, Like & Trust you (this is at a very gut level), they will be more likely moved to help you … refer you clients … introduce you to centers of influence … direct you towards beneficial opportunities.

Networking: Is It More Than Just Finding People?

“It’s Not What You Know, But Who You Know.” Chances are, that is something you have heard once or twice in your life … a well-meaning parent, a mentor, or supportive colleague. This begs the question, “How much truth is there to this?”

In reality, this is sage advice, but at the same time, it is also partially a myth. Who you know is more important than what you know. The world has more than its share of brilliant people that fall far, far from their true potential because they study away on incredible scholarly projects all by them self. At the same time, far less brilliant people rise to great heights merely on the connections they have. For example, Bill Gates was not the smartest computer person going. He was simply a smart computer mind with a plethora of connections.

But as much as who you know is important, the world also has more than its share of individuals that seemingly know lots of people but get very little from this network. How is this possible? Quite simply, it is more than who you know.

Effective networking is not just about knowing people. And it is so much more than making dozens of calls, posting on LinkedIn, and attending events. This is the simple reality: Effective networking is not just about connecting with and being connected to others. Effective networking is about having meaningful relationships with those you are connected with.

Success will not come from filling your database with dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people. You will achieve success by creating relationships with a reasonable number of people. These can include centers of influences (such as, bankers, attorneys, accountants, outplacement professionals). These relationships could also be with existing professionals, which have a network of family, friends, and acquaintances that want a similar professional existence. These relationships could be with a wide variety of different types of people directly, indirectly, and even seemingly completely unrelated to what you do. Whatever the case, the important thing is that you have a solid RELATIONSHIP with them.

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Networking Works!

There is tremendous value in networking and networking adds value to you. Networking is much more than prospecting and selling. In general, it involves interacting with those around you (face-to-face, over the telephone, e-mail or text, and even using social media). Nevertheless, you engage in networking for the purpose of the people around you and at the same time position yourself to receive help.

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Networking Works!

Now it may not work HOW you would like it to work. For example, you go to a networking event hoping to meet accountants who might know of people interested in buying a franchise. To that end, nothing pans out, but you do learn of a job-transition group that you were not aware of. Networking did not work HOW you wanted, but it worked.

Networking may not work WHERE you want it to work. The next day standing in line to get coffee, you strike up a conversation with someone who reveals in polite conversation that they are looking for more freedom in their professional life. Networking did not work WHERE you wanted, but it worked.

Finally, networking may not work WHEN you want it to work. For example, again, you go to a networking event hoping to make contacts to help you find clients interested in franchising. You seem to come up empty. Then a month later, a year later, or even a decade or more later, someone reconnects with you from that event looking to be your client. Trust me, this happens. Again, Networking did not work WHEN you wanted, but it worked.

Networking Activities

Networking opportunities fall into three distinct categories: Face To Face … Electronic Encounters … and, Social Media.

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Face To Face networking opportunities including, various activities when you are out and about with people. These include:

  • Structured Networking, including Toastmasters, Rotary, Lions’ Club, or organizations like AmSpirit Business Connections.
  • Networking Events, include trade shows, volunteer activities, business after-hours, Chamber events, seminars, and even social events like tailgates.
  • Free-Form Networking, includes perhaps a round of golf, meeting over a cup of coffee, just getting together.

With respect to networking in the modern age, much of what you can do face to face, you can accomplish via ELECTRONIC ENCOUNTERS. More specifically, you network over the telephone, over e-mail and through texting. Remember networking is more than selling and prospecting. It is two or more people working towards their mutual benefit – sharing referrals or contacts, passing on information, being encouraging and supportive.

Finally, in the 21st century, technological innovation has given way to social media websites. These are nothing more than virtual venues where you can network – again, share referrals or contacts, pass on information, being encouraging and supportive.

The main three social media applications are LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, but beyond these are dozens and dozens of others. If used properly, social media will allow you to network on a massive scale, on a worldwide basis, 24 hours a day and seven days a week, and do so with incredible information about your networking partner before you even make contact.

Your Networking Creates An Asset

Your life is comprised of various assets. There is physical capital such as money, investments, homes, cars and other belongings. There is human capital, such as your ability to work, think and do things. And there is social capital, which the invisible benefit that your network provides.

Know this, when you network, it is not an expense of your time. Do not think of it in those terms. Certainly some networking is more productive than others, but understand that any networking is an investment.

Prospecting: An Investment.

Attending An Event: An Investment.

Volunteering: An Investment.

Socializing: An Investment.

Think about networking as a component of building your personal wealth. When you network, you build value in your life. So get out and network. As you do, feel as if your net worth is growing… because it is.

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Networking: Three Recurring (and vital) Themes

Networking is nothing new. In fact, it has been studied for years. As such, there are recurring themes within it. If you understand these three concepts, you will be ahead of the vast majority of the working population.

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• The Golden Rule of Networking… This rule states that effective networking is about giving to others first (with no expectation of any return) and simply hoping that things will come back to you. Your entire networking existence should be about finding ways to help or give to others … referrals, businesses, contacts, information, encouragement, your time … give, give, give. Trust me, it will come back to you.

• The Quintessential Elements Of Networking Relationships… All things being equal, we do business with people we Know, Like, and Trust. In fact, all things being unequal, we still do things with those we Know, Like, and Trust. So everything you do involving others needs to center on you getting to KNOW them (and not necessarily them you) … you being perceived as LIKABLE to them … and, you conducting yourself so they feel they can TRUST you.

• Every Contact Has Opportunity … We are all a little guilty of this: Dismissing someone as not being of consequence to us. Know this, however, while everyone may not be your next employer or key business contact, everyone is somehow connected to one (directly or indirectly). Thus, treat everyone as if they have that potential and eventually good things will follow.

Understand (and really think about) these themes. They are important, as they serve the foundation upon which all effective networking activity is built.

LinkedIn Active Use #3 of 4

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The third active use of LinkedIn is to add-value by contributing content. Think for a moment as to how you might conduct yourself at a traditional networking event. You stand around talking with people. You start discussions and you contribute to discussions that others have started. You answer questions that others ask and you ask questions that you look for others to answer. LinkedIn provides this same opportunity for its users.

If you go into any of the groups you have joined, you will see that there are usually numerous discussion going on. Jump in and add value.

This does NOT mean pitch yourself or product. It means share an opinion or insight. Offer a solution to a problem. Share your experience as it relates to the discussion.

In networking (whether traditional networking or online), adding value in this manner is critical to keeping you on the minds of others. People want to associate with those that add value. As they cannot help knowing, liking and trusting you.

Warning For Social Media Networking

Far too often, people figuratively chain themselves to their computer and clank away in LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter hoping to create business for themselves. While they may stumble onto some, it seldom reaches the level they hope for.

Know this… Social media (and especially LinkedIn) is not a sales machine… it is not an order-taking system…it is not an ATM. It is merely a tool that you can use to better network yourself … It is not a replacement for networking.

Think of it in terms of this analogy … We networked before we had phones. People worldwide and people in this country, built vast and complex civilizations long before they had any sort of electronic telecommunications. They were able to network themselves … Word-of-mouth, couriers and carrier pigeons did the trick. Back in the day, people did business and associated with those they knew, they liked and trusted.

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When the telephone came along, it did not change the underlying aspects of networking. It just made it easier. But they still did business with those they knew, they liked and they trusted. The telephone was just a tool.

The same is true of social media (such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter). It is just a tool. It is not networking. It is just a tool to make it easier to get to know people, determine if we like them, and then ultimately trust them.

Creating A Referral Machine 7 of 7

You have established relationships and you have empowered that network. Great! Know this, however, there is no such thing as perpetual motion. Far too often, people work hard to create a referral machine only to watch it “peter out” or break down altogether because they erroneously assume that an empowered network will just keep kicking out referrals.

Think of creating a referral machine like pushing a car: You have to work really hard to get the car rolling. Once the car is rolling you do not have to exert much force to keep it moving, but it still takes mild effort (and you dare not let it come to a stop, because then it is like starting over).

With creating a referral machine, the establishing relationships and empowering the network is the Herculean push to get things moving, the mild force to keep it all moving involves three things.

Ask … Continue to ask for ways you can help your network. Yes, continue to ask for referrals, but also ask for things that your network might not see. From time to time, someone will become frustrated with their network because it is not referring something that seems obvious to them. Remember those who make up your referral machine do not live in your world. They do not always see it the way you do. Do not be afraid to ask.

“Can you introduce me to this person?”

“Could you get me an opportunity to speak at this event?”

“Would you keep your eye open for this?”

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Do not be afraid that your network will be annoyed. Remember, if you do it right they know you, like you, and trust you.

Appreciate … Second, no matter what your network does for you, thank them. If they send you a referral or do anything of value, fall all over yourself thanking them. Celebrate your joy with them.

If a referral goes nowhere, fall all over yourself thanking them. Why? First, the glass is always half full. The fact they are thinking of you is an excuse enough to celebrate. Your referral machine is working!

Second, appreciation is a wonderful motivator. You dole it out and people want more. And they will do what is necessary to get more. Know this, few people “thank” others. Therefore you will really set yourself apart when you show appreciation towards others.

Clarify … Finally, no matter how well you educate and empower, your network is going to get it wrong from time to time. They want to help you, but they are going to send you referrals that are, well, bad.

So what? Don’t get frustrated. Remember, the glass is half full. They want to help and they are trying. Take the opportunity to reconnect with them and clarify. One small correction in how they are perceiving what is a good referral for you could spell the difference between continued bad referrals and a great new client.

Creating A Referral Machine 6 of 7

If you do a spectacular job educating your network on recognizing referrals, great. That, however, is not enough. You need to empower them with the ability to talk to prospective clients about what it is you do.

For example, if they recognize that the displaced executive is a potential client to refer to you, great. Encourage them to strike up a conversation with the person (and they will if they know, like and trust you). And transition into a discussion about franchising. Here is an example:

“I am sorry you are in transition. What is your next move? Have you considered becoming your own boss? I understand that franchising is almost a fool-proof means of successfully being in business. I know a great franchise broker … there is no obligation to meet with him and his services are essentially free, as the franchisors pay his fees.”

In addition to general conversation, empower your referral machine with non-technical buzz words and catch phrases about your industry (as well as what they mean) … Franchise Fee … Ongoing Royalties … FDD … Earnings Claim … Discovery Day. Your network should know enough to talk about what you do but not enough to do it.

Finally, encourage your network to hook you into the situation. In short, encourage the person to talk about you in a connecting sense. Returning to the example from before “I know a great franchise broker. There is no obligation to meet with him and his services are essentially free, as the franchisors pay his fees.”

keep the gears