Here is the conundrum. In a world where the number is never done and bosses or stockholders are breathing down your neck, when do you find time to network? You cannot find it, you must schedule it. As a first hint, I challenge you to find 5% of your week, every week, just to connect. You already know who is falling out of your network. You also know those that you really need to retain. Call them, tell them you care, send them a card, and reconnect. The worst time to reconnect is always when you need something. Ever get a call from a long lost collegue with a resume in his hand? Don’t be that person.
A referral group can be one of your best resources for developing new business. The steps are simple; however, the execution requires an investment of time from you.
The real mission
It’s been refreshing to see the field of sales evolve beyond the pushy stereotype of “yes at any cost” to today’s intelligent vendor-client relationships that thrive long-term. It seems to me that networking, a necessary component of the business scene, has been experiencing a similar transformation of mission. What percent of us, I wonder, conscientiously attending networking breakfasts, luncheons, after-hours and the like, or courageously handing out cards and brochures to anyone within arms length, are catching the new unwritten dynamic which makes networking an expressway to success for some, and a rough path to nowhere for others. As a Life and Business Coach, I admit I’ve had the advantage of knowing how to meet and get to know potential clients, yet even so, it took time for me to appreciate the complex choreography of human relationship that happens at every networking event, from one-on-one for coffee to the city-wide Expo. What I began to see was that networkers with a “what’s in it for me” mindset were failing, and those with a generous “I’m here to help” approach were succeeding. This simple analysis brought me to a definitive “aha” and I’m bursting to share with you what real networking is (and what it’s not).
– Martin Brossman