About a month ago I received a call from my friend Pete. I met Pete 12 years ago in a referral group. Back then I worked for a company selling printer supplies and service. Pete gave me a ton of leads and really helped me grow my sales. I was never really able to return the favor. However, we built a relationship that remains today – even though he left the group for a while, and then, after 13 years, I left it.
When he called recently it was to ask me to facilitate a strategic planning meeting for an organization he’s involved with. They didn’t have funds to pay for this. I instantly agreed. This was my chance to pay him back. The added benefit is that I’ve acquired two clients so far from the engagement as well as future opportunities to work with the organization.
Recently my father-in-law passed away. I was given the task of creating the memorial handout for the service. Once we created it, I called Ed at American Speedy Printing. Once again, I met Ed years ago. And while he’s never given me a referral, I’ve used him for some of my printing and I trust him. I knew he’d take care of me and I wouldn’t have to think about it. I’ve met plenty of other printers over the years, but none who I trust as much as Ed.
I consistently have people check my LinkedIn connections and ask for introductions. When the request comes from someone I know well and trust, I’m happy to help. I don’t just make the LinkedIn connection, I email the person asking them to take my contact’s call, explaining why I think they should. Out of my 1,200+ connections on LinkedIn, I know which make sense and share that information with the person requesting the introduction.
Why am I sharing these stories with you? To show you the impact effective networking can have on your business and your life over time.
Building relationships without any expectation of what you are going to get is the best way to maximize your networking efforts. You should approach networking beyond the immediate need.
When you network you are going to meet a lot of people. You aren’t going to develop relationships with all of them. You’ll find that the people who resonate with you will be the ones you will naturally stay with. Go with it. Trying to create connections with people who you don’t feel a connection to is like continuing to date someone you have no interest in. Why do it?
The most successful networkers I know have three things in common:
1. They’re relaxed: They aren’t consumed with what they can get from the event or the people there. They are just themselves. They know the business will come, so they don’t worry about it.
2. They’re giving: Their attention is always on the other person, discovering who they are and what they need. Great networkers are always open to how they can help someone else.
3. They’re engaged: They don’t’ sit alone or wait for someone to approach them. They don’t gravitate to people they already know. They are out there, attending events, joining organizations and getting involved. Great networkers understand that there’s no magic formula. Great networkers know they get what they give.
So, where do you fall in regard to these points? Can you recall ways your networking efforts have paid off years later? How engaged are you? No matter where you fall, you can and should make sure you are attending events, joining groups, and engaging with others. Build those relationships for your future success, and you’ll enjoy the long-term impact of networking.