At a business networking event last week, one of the attendees complained to me. He said, “I don't think I'm going to attend this event anymore. No one wants to buy from me.” I pointed out that he had only attended the event twice and no one had the chance to really get to know him. “Networking is what gets you in the door,” I explained. “It's up to you to build the relationship.” I received a confused look and began to explain…
The networking event lasts 2 hours. If you attend 2 of the events, that's 4 hours that people have in their time bank of getting to know you. That's assuming you talked to one person for the entire 2 hours. Let's be realistic: Did that really happen? NO!
Knowing someone for less than 4 hours does not give you an accurate description of who the person is or what their business does. It has been said over and over: People do business with other people who they know, like, and trust. I don't think you can know, like, and trust someone in less than 4 hours at a networking event.
People typically don't buy from others at a business networking event. A business networking event is used to create visibility for you and your business. Networking gives you the opportunity for people to ask you about your products or services and for you to get to know others who may be interested in doing business with you.
Use your time wisely at networking events. Qualify potential prospects and other businesses you want to partner with, renew relationships, and set up appointments. Networking is what gets you the introduction and plants the seed for the relationship. It is up to you to follow-up and get to know the person to allow the relationship to grow.
Did he understand what I said about networking? Probably. I asked him a question, “How long did it take for your best friend to become your best friend? Didn't that take time?”
He laughed and said, “What best friend?” Then again, maybe not.
Photo: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
Love this blog post! A wise person once explained to me that “Networking” is an action verb NOT just an adjective. It is a continuous effort at fine tuning the skill and art form of meeting new people. Thanks fo the great food for thought!
Would that wise person be Brian Kennedy? 🙂 Networking is an action, that’s why there is “work” in networking.
Thanks for commenting and being a first-time visitor Stephanie!
My business partner and I have been talking about this a lot lately. You’re so right. And the same thing applies online. However, for some reason, people have the perspective in social media circles, that it’s all about pitching their stuff. Just like it takes time offline (and involves getting to know people, focusing on them, offering value, following up), it takes time online (and involves getting to know people, focusing on them, offering value, following up). As you’ve indicated, networking is an introduction. It’s about visibility. It’s about meeting people, getting to know THEM, and then building relationships with them . . . which may or may not lead to sales. It’s not a, “Hey, buy my stuff . . . me, me, me” scenario. Love this post :).
Thanks Leanne! Your comment got me thinking about applying those same principles online as well. It does take time to know people online as well as offline.
It still takes time to build the trust factor. Thanks for sharing your points!
Don’t ya just love the people that walk into the room yelling, “buy my stuff, buy my stuff?” LOL This is a classic example of how NOT to use relational marketing. Building a business is about building a network, pure and simple. Networks are people. People take time to get to know each other.
Yes, thank you so much Martha! It’s not about buying your products and services but getting to know people.
I love your point: “Networks are people”. So true!
This is exactly what’s wrong with America. We are a “disposable” people- want everything done in two minutes; if not, move on and move away. Kids don’t understand that learning a course does not happen in a classroom and that homework takes as long as it does. (If you know the answers, it takes less time :-)). Parents expect a promotion every year (that ain’t happening any more.) Budding entrepreneurs think if they read one book, copy someone’s great idea they will become millionaires overnight once they have a web site…
I have a two year old grandson. He knows not to ask from the backseat “Are we there yet?”….
We need to train folks in the work ethic and the ability to achieve given good decisions and groundwork.
Thanks for sharing.
You’re welcome Roy! Yes, patience is definitely a virtue and building trust takes patience.
Wonderful topic, Kristen!
Reading your post took me back to my school days (may sound like a crazy remark, but stay with me here).
For the first 13 years of school, kindergarten through high school graduation, did you get to know, like, and trust EVERY one of your classmates? Of course, not — especially if you attended school in a larger district with hundreds of students. Instead, most people developed a handful of really close friends.
When I finished my senior year, I hadn’t even gotten to know half the people in my graduating class. Kind of sad, but true. I’m sure many of them could have turned out to be wonderful friends.
As you’ve so eloquently stated, it takes TIME to build relationships. Establishing and nurturing relationships doesn’t happen overnight or in a couple of hours at a local meetup. That’s just plain unrealistic — no way is that feasible.
Very sound advice here — enjoyed your post!
Thanks Melanie and your point was well-made. In school, you decided who to be friends with after talking to them here and there.
The ones you wanted to be friends with, you took the time to get to know them and developed a relationship. It’s the same with business.
You have to qualify prospects and decide if that’s your target market and make that decision to pursue that relationship.
Hi Kristen, I don’t have a chance to network here in Italy due to language barriers but I look at this from the perspective of my work where I teach individual students. It takes about 3-4 lessons before I am able to develop a relationship with them and with time, they even refer me to others. I also see the same pattern online. It’s not about hard-selling but rather building a relationship. That’s what I really value!
Thanks Diana! I think the biggest hurdle is trust. Trust takes time and is not obtainable overnight.
Especially in your field, your customers really have to trust you because they could be talking about personal issues.
I love how you pointed out that once you develop the relationship, they refer you to others. Exactly!
Ive just been reading about this very thing today in a book called Endless Referrals by Bob Burg. His key message throughout the book, is people will do business with, and refer business, to those people they know, like and trust….so very true
Unfortunately some people still equate networking to selling and it just doesnt work, Good and effective networking, online or off, is all about building relationships and creating mutually beneficial partnerships.
Yes Maureen (good book by the way!), you also bring up a great point. The partnership has to be mutually beneficial.
Thanks for your insight!
I’m glad this post got you thinking Bonnie and I love your approach. When I network, I always ask the person who are they looking to do business with.
I laugh to myself as their jaw hits the floor, surprised at my question. As one of my mentors tells me: “The best way to get a customer is to bring that person a customer” – Jeffrey Gitomer
What a great response you’ve had, Kristen! =) It looks like a lot of people were able to relate to this post. I, like Diana, don’t get a chance to network much here in Peru. I’m kind of new to the networking world, but I love Bonnie’s approach — relationship first, business later (if at all). =) It’s so down-to-earth. In networking with people online, I also try to take the attitude.
Thanks for having me think about this, Kristen. =) The response from the guy at the networking event was so hilarious! =)
Thanks Samantha! I was a little miffed at first, then I started chuckling to myself, and now I just outright laugh.
It is pretty funny but that’s a classic response to networking: some people really do expect to sell their product.
Amen to this! People do business with those they know, like and trust. New prospects need more than a first meeting to know, like and trust you. In all businesses, it really takes time to build relationships that are mutually beneficial. We just really have to focus on our true goals and create reason for people to do business with us.
You’re right Lynne! You want recommendations from people who know you and have worked with you.
Thanks for stopping by!
Time and giving are key factors in building any relationship. It cannot be one-sided or it won’t last very long. Thanks for laying this out in a concise way.
You’re welcome Rob! Thanks for stopping by!