The following is a guest blog post by the extremely talented Yuhannes Watts, the Chief Linking Offer @ Learn2Link where he teaches LinkedIn Strategy and building Business Relationships.
Ok – so you’re out networking like crazy, tossing out business cards left and right, collecting mountains of business cards from others and schmoozing like nobodies business. But hold on buddy – attending every networking event in the world doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a relationship builder. Trust me when I tell you that people are keen on the difference between those who just “pop up” at various events and those who commit to building quality relationships with others in the business community.
Here are 5 ways people can tell if you’re genuine relationship builder or just looking for a sale…
1. You never give referrals or introductions
Remember that Janet Jackson song “what have you done for me lately.” Well that’s the way it works in networking world. The “Givers Gain” rule heavily applies in this space. This means those who GIVE the most referrals and introductions GET them in return. If you think networking is a game of RECEIVING – please go back to the drawing board. Being a GIVER = being a serious relationship builder.
2. You only call when there’s a sales opportunity
This is one of my biggest gripes with sales professionals and business owners. Building relationships means ALWAYS keeping up with your network! If you only pop up when you smell a sales opportunity people will figure you out pretty quickly and you go straight to their IGNORE list. Just know that 99% of the people you meet while networking will not need your product when you first meet them… so what do you do then? Ask yourself – how often do you call others in your network just to touch base? See how they are doing? Share important information? If the answer is never then you’re not a serious relationship builder.
3. You never offer to help others
HELPING is an important component building relationships. During the process of helping others important building blocks are established such as knowing, liking and trusting. There are MANY ways to help others such as sharing information, referrals, introductions, supporting, donating, volunteering, etc. Helping is a pillar of networking, relationship building and in life. If you don’t think you have anything of value to offer others – think again.
4. You don’t respect timing
Anyone that has life experience knows that TIMING IS EVERYTHING. This may be harder to understand for younger professionals and those who are new to networking. Even for an experienced networker like myself, it can be frustrating when your contact cancels an important meeting that’s taken you months to confirm. It seems rude, inconsiderate and confusing. Many times I’ve learned that it was due to a death in the family, the changing climate in the company or even my contact going through a job change. Whatever the case may be, understanding that business doesn’t happen until the time is right is key. If you loose your cool during the process and show a lack of patience this process it could ruin a potentially great relationship – and your reputation.
5. You give people no COMPELLING reason to do business with YOU
In the real world people usually don’t move until they have a compelling reason to. The folks you want to work with are hounded daily with request to connect on LinkedIn and solicited for face to face meetings – how are you any different from the legions of “others?” The secret sauce is making sure the VALUE YOU OFFER is clear. Are you going to personally help them? Can you provide them with inside information? A key introduction? Support a personal cause? Solve a problem? The second part to this equation is to go about this in a pro-active manner. DON’T WAIT for someone to ask what you can do… Find a way to show them. If you GIVE people a reason to deal with you, they usually become very interested in building a relationship with you. If you think handing out your business card is enough to get the ball rolling with a new contact – don’t hold your breath.
If you master the above, you’ll be on your way to building great relationships. If you don’t master the above then the process of building relationships and networking can be a never ending maze of activity that doesn’t get your results.