There is still a naïve perception around among some people that we can go to a few networking events, talk to people for a few minutes, give what we think is a good spiel about our business, hand out a few business cards and that people should want to buy our services or products as a result.
These same people will then stop attending if they don’t begin to pick up business after a few events, declaring that the “event” is of no value to their business.
This is not what networking is about. “Events” don’t create business relationships. People do. Networking is about building relationships and connections with people. It’s about doing this over the long term, not the short term. We know that personal friendships take a long time to grow and develop and business relationships are no different.
Those relationships are built by helping others build their careers and their businesses – giving without expecting returns often, helping one another achieve our respective goals. They are built as we work co-operatively and collaboratively together on projects that are mutually important to us. This is the way people get to know us and what’s important to us. It’s also the way they get to like us. If they know and like us, they will also begin to trust us. That’s when they do business with us.
48% of people in business give up on people if they don’t get a positive response from them after the first meeting. 12% give up after the third contact and 5% after the fourth contact. This means that 9 out of 10 people are never followed up more than 4 times.
Yet statistics show that it takes an average of 7 contacts before someone feels they know, like and trust us enough to purchase our services. In the professional services area where I work, people are investing much more of themselves in the service they are seeking so it often takes up to 12 contacts before they are confident to engage us. They need more of the know, like and trust factor.
So my motivating challenge for this week is to begin building value-based relationships and connections with people who can enhance your personal and professional lives.
- Maintain and sustain the relationship.
- Seek opportunities to give much before you ask for anything back.
- Create value in the relationship.
- Be interested in what they are interested in – projects, causes, organisations, events.
- Take an active interest in what they are doing.
- Make sure you can engage them on these issues when you meet them.
This is the way to build connections and relationships. If built in a genuine and authentic way, the rewards do eventually come and they are all the more valuable because of the time taken to build them.