Read “Networking is Dead” to Make Profitable Connections

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networking is deadAs I write this review I have a very interesting experiment going on.  I’m promoting a rather large event with a varied group of organizations; some are large brands with humongous email lists and some are not-so-large brands with smaller lists.

I’ve given them all a custom link so that I could see the results of our promotional effort.  So who do you think has the better conversion rate?  The big companies with the large lists or the slightly smaller folks with the more modest lists?

While you think about that, let me tell you about a book I’ve been reading; Networking is Dead: Making Connections That Matter. The book is by Melissa G. Wilson (@MGWilsonAuthor) and Larry Mohl (@lmmohl).

I received a review copy a little while ago and I have to admit that the title took me aback.  “How can networking be dead? It’s the oldest, best way to build referrals and get new customers!”  I simply had to see what the authors’ point of view was and to possibly find a better way to build a more engaged and profitable customer base.

Ten Lessons That Will Take You From Irritable to Irresistible

Maybe this is the point in the review where I tell you that this is one of those “business fable” books.  That means if you like books like The EMyth, or Built to Sell, you will eat this book up with a spoon.

I think that the genre of book is important here because the authors seek to teach you the principles of building meaningful relationships by actually building a relationship with you through the story.

The book follows a cast of three characters: Lance and Meredeth (the students) and Dan (the teacher) as they explore this ten-step process.  Lance and Meredith are looking to grow their business network and are introduced to Dan, the business connection coach by their yoga instructor.

Dan has a firm opinion that networking is a bad word. Dan’s opinion is that building your business by referrals isn’t just about collecting business cards or a social network following, but casually culling your existing relationships and judiciously nurturing the right new relationships.

Dan serves as the expert guide through these ten powerful lessons.  Each lesson is highlighted as a chapter and at the end of each chapter is a lesson summary.  You will definitely appreciate that because you are likely to get so engaged in the story that you forget that it actually has a purpose — to help you grow a profitable business through connections that matter.

Let’s get on with a few of the lessons I thought were truly outstanding.

Why You Connect is More Important Than What You Want Out of the Connection

This is the first lesson in the book and it comes at you fast. It’s the first chapter in the book and the lesson is actually woven into the story in a rather subtle way.  Lance and Meredith (the two business folks) are meeting for coffee with their yoga instructor who is introducing them to Dan.

You may not have caught on to the lesson, but the authors allude to it; people are drawn together by their shared commitments to what truly matters to them.  In other words, people with like values and beliefs are more likely to be friends.  There’s a cliche for that — “Birds of a feather, flock together.”

What the authors are trying to point out is that many of us have gotten a little too focused on targeting specific industries and collecting quantities of followers, friends and business cards.  What really counts in business is the strength of the relationship and that strength comes from shared values and commitments.

Focus on Quality Rather Than Quantity

You will get nothing but agreement from me on this point.  And I’m sure you’ve heard this before.

But what I really liked about the authors’ approach in this book is the critical way they teach you to look at each of your contacts.  The authors tell you to separate them into three groups: Givers, Takers and Exchangers.

You can guess what those categories mean:

  • Givers are those contacts who help you grow your business and give you the things you need to grow it.
  • Takers — well, they just take.  They give nothing and expect everything.
  • Exchangers are there to partner with you for mutual benefit.

A New Way to Profitably Grow Your Business Through Relationships

Networking is Dead is not only a fun summer read, it will have you step into autumn with a new, more powerful way to build great relationships.  You’ll find yourself working less on building referrals and working more with people you love to work with, who also love to work with you.

Which Promoters Connections Convert Better?

Now let’s get back to the question I asked you to consider at the beginning of my review — which lists got better responses to the promotion sent out for the event?  Was it the list from the big brands or was it the lists from the small experts?

If you read carefully, you’ll guess that the smaller experts who were more engaged with their lists had more than 200 times the response rate of the big brands.

The lesson here — the big brands have big lists, but small relationships with those lists.  You can actually be more successful by having a smaller but more engaged list.  Once again, it isn’t about quantity but quality.  And you can put that idea to work in your business today.

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Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."