Mention business networking to an entrepreneur who does not focus on marketing or in-person prospecting, and they typically conjure up a picture in their mind of an hour-long event where people shake hands, make small talk, and exchange business cards. Business networking can indeed look like this, especially for the short game, but is that effective?
Let’s get some clarity on what networking is and talk about the benefit of partaking in business networking for the long game.
What is Business Networking?
Networking is a supportive system of shared information and services between individuals and groups that have common interests. Business networking includes the interaction of individuals to grow professional relationships.
Effective business networking is not about selling, but rather about developing relationships that can lead to sales or referrals.
Business Networking Long Game Effectiveness
- Is business networking a helpful short-term tool? It can be, but only if your goal is to make contacts and take it no further than being in the physical presence with your contacts occasionally, or even at a single event.
- Can short game business networking be harmful to your business? Yes. You may come across as caring for only yourself if you are not geared towards developing a long-term relationship. This shows in your actions and communication, which can be detrimental as you may appear as not committed or trustworthy. Remember, the initial meeting is just a start. You must show up and be present to gain much-desired trust.
Is your goal to grow your business through the formation of alliances through business networking? Relationships are built by getting to know people and their businesses, and this is the foundation of one of the most effective marketing and prospecting tools—the long-term game of networking.
Name of the Game – Business Relationships
Showing interest in others is foundational to forming lasting and strong relationships.
Think of a time you were in a conversation with someone when you realized they were not listening, instead they appeared to be self-focused or immersed in taking care of themselves, ensuring they got the next or last word in. This is one of the biggest barriers to forming a relationship and is a deterrent to effective business networking.
How do you get to know someone? You listen. Listen more than you speak. You build a much-stronger relationship through the sharing of interests and values. This is an impossible feat without hearing the story that others tell.
People must know and trust you before they’ll do business with you or refer you. This involves a process of listening and knowing when and what to share with others, and none of this happens overnight. Trust builds after a combination of meeting, talking, listening, and sharing, rinse and repeat. Networking is a learned skill and one of the most important tips to preserve the long game is to never allow the conversation to fizzle after you’ve met someone you’re interested in developing a business relationship with.
Events that Build Relationships
You can find networking events through your local Chamber of Commerce, but you may or may not find events designed as a tool that fits your needs.
In Central Texas, opportunity and choice knock at your door, Master Networks.
Imagine meeting with a room full of people who are fully committed, as members, to shared relationships and trust. Imagine becoming friends as well as colleagues with people.
Shared interests lead to the growth of lasting relationships, and you’ll find this through Master Networks’ weekly scheduled social and networking events, as well as workshops on a variety of topics of interest once a quarter, leadership training sessions, and an annual conference—an outstanding world-class training event.
Visit more than one Master Networks chapter (we’re at eight and growing) to find a group that is right for you.