Many have shared thoughtful insight and opinion on the topic of networking but here’s what sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. Networking isn’t always all about you. It really isn’t. I teach emerging entrepreneurs about the benefits of networking and provide a “how to” on creating their own starter statement (most call this an elevator pitch) as a way to get the conversation flowing. The reality is however, sometimes, the audience with whom you’re networking, just isn’t one you’ll ever do business with. If that’s the case, should you still expend the effort? Heck yes!
Networking is in fact almost always about the referral. It’s possible you will never have reason to do business with the financial representative you just met over coffee and unlikely you could buy from each of the lovely “Brand X” nutritional shakes or skin care reps you meet along your networking journey. But guess what? If you make a favorable impression on them or they on you, its entirely possible you might know someone else who is willing to do business with them and/or needs their product or service. Because you took the time to have a great conversation, to network and get to know them, each of you are now more than willing to act as a referral source for the other. That’s how networking works.
Too often people go into these opportunities with a “what’s in it for me” attitude. Recently, I was at an event where someone was selling a health food product with nuts in it. I didn’t notice and when I asked if it was nut free she was quite sarcastic in her response. That’s not a person I want to do business with. I made an honest mistake and I actually know two individuals who own and operate establishments where this person might have wanted to have her products featured. I did pass along the names of the establishments to her (I’m not that mean) but I certainly didn’t offer to act as a referral source because our networking conversation wasn’t a pleasant one. I had no confidence in her product because I had no confidence in her. It also meant I was unable to discuss my business with her so it was a missed opportunity for us both.
So yes you should still expend some effort even when the networking isn’t about you. Think of the time spent as an opportunity to share your core values with the world. By sharing who you really are, not just what you do, you are sending a strong message to the world about what is important to you, how you do business with others and how you treat people. I don’t know about you, but knowing these kinds of things about a person is much more likely to encourage me to want to do business with them and I believe makes others more interested in potentially working with me. Be the kind of referral you would like to get from others and meet others with the intention of acting as a great referral for them. That’s what networking should be all about.
As Owner and Principal partner of “Writing Right For You” Sheralyn is a Communications Strategist – working together with entrepreneurs to maximize profit through effective use of the written word. Looking for web content that works, blog articles that engage or communications strategies that help you get noticed? Contact Sheralyn today. Sheralyn is also the mother of two children now entering the “terrible and terrific teens” and spends her free time volunteering for several non-profit organizations.
Sheralyn Roman B.A., B.Ed.
Writing Right For You
Communications Strategies that help you GET TO THE POINT!