The New (Old) Way of Networking
By Veronika (Ronnie) Noize, the Marketing Coach. Ronnie will be presenting “Building Your Business with Networking” on Wednesday, December 5th from 6 to 9 pm.
It is almost ironic that the very tools we expected to make communication easier and faster have succeeded so well that now we often find ourselves isolated by the very technological tools created to connect us to our prospects and clients.
Cell phones, pagers, email, fax, social media and web sites have taken the place of face-to-face meetings in many cases, but the old model for networking—the personal touch—is even more important today.
Why? Because technology may have changed, but people have not; we still prefer to do business with people we know, like, and trust. And getting to know, like, and trust others usually means seeing the whites of their eyes at least once, which is why networking is experiencing a renaissance in the business world.
Nothing beats face-to-face meetings for creating relationships, and after all, that is what marketing is really about: Creating mutually beneficial relationships.
Of course, not all relationships are created equal; some relationships are about referrals, some about alliances to serve a mutual client, and others are about serving client needs. But no matter what type of relationships you are looking to develop, relationships built in person trump those made in cyberspace, if only because we feel more comfortable with someone we can look in the eyes.
Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, networking was more about distributing your business cards to as many people as possible, which was profitable for business card printers, but not so much for the average networker.
Piles of business cards, carefully collected at many networking functions, might sit untouched for weeks, if not months, only to be thrown out when one became tired of looking at them.
These days, however, networking is all about creating relationships, getting to know one’s colleagues, and finding out how to serve others. Obviously, we want to get the word out about our own fantastic capabilities, products and services, and networking is perfect for visibility, but networking is not simply an opportunity to surface prospects—it is an opportunity to serve others.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you forget your own business goals; rather, remember that not everyone you meet is going to be a prospect, but they may be able to connect you with a prospect, so find out how you can serve them, so that you create a positive relationship.
Helping others find what they need to be successful will pay off for your business. But you can’t refer with confidence without a fairly clear understanding of what one person wants, and what the other offers, so listening closely in order to help them both find what they need—be it resources or prospects—will show your genuine interest, and give you enough information to do what you can to help.
Being a good listener is as important as having a killer elevator speech at networking functions these days, because referring to others and arranging introductions creates good will that will often be reciprocated. To quote the great sales and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”
“Building Your Business with Networking” on December 5th from 6 to 9 pm.
The New (Old) Way of Networking © 2012 Veronika Noize. All rights reserved.