What is networking? Webster’s Dictionary defined networking as, “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically : the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.” Two key words to note here. “Exchange.” Networking has give and take. “Relationships.” Networking is about building relationships. Before we go on let’s look at what networking is not.
- Networking is not sales. If you go to networking events expecting to walk away with business or business prospects you’ll be disappointed.
- Networking is not advertising. If you plan to leave networking events having distributed your business card or brochure to everyone there you’ll make a nuisance of yourself and have irritated everyone you met.
- Networking is not marketing. Marketing is making people aware of your or your company’s products and services. If you go to networking events broadcasting to everyone there (even one-on-one) the products, services, features and benefits that you or your company have to offer you’ll likely offend everyone there.
Building a strong network will make your sales, advertising and marketing more effective.
Networking is about building relationships. Targeted networking involves locating groups of people who would be part of your identified target market or who may have access to your target market and getting to know them; one by one. Getting to know them—not getting them to know you!
Remember: The purpose of networking is to meet people and begin developing a relationship with them that will benefit your business in the future.
That relationship can lead to:
- Doing business with them
- Them referring other potential clients to you
- Them becoming a resource for you
- You becoming a resource for them
- Becoming friends with them
None of this is likely to happen if you ask for business or referrals before having ‘earned the right’ by developing a relationship first.