>You’ve heard the ole networking sayings, “It is not what you know, it is who you know” or “It is not who you know, it is who knows you.” When it comes to the new rules of networking, “It is not who knows you, it is who is GLAD they know you.”

Networking used to be about getting out there, getting to know as many people as you can and letting them know who you are and what you do. Today, given our economy that goal has changed. The purpose of networking now is to get out there and meet people to build relationships that lead to trust – period!

Why the change? When our economy changed, the rules of networking changed. You no longer want to be just someone that people know, you want to be the person that people trust, refer and believe cares and adds value to their lives. You want to be the person that people want to know, feel they need to know and more importantly tell their friends they need to know.

Our economy is not down it is different. Forever changed, and consumers have made a fundamental shift in the way they buy, when they buy and from whom they buy. We are moving out of a push economy (when companies are in control, anticipate consumer demand and provide products, services they feel consumers need) and into a pull economy (consumer control and consumers decide what they need, when, why and from whom they need it.)

Trust and value have become the new return on investment. Face it – we all sell commodities. Our customers can get the “widget” we sell anywhere. Consumers are looking for and want to deal with someone they trust and who can add value. Consumers rely less now on information and more on influence. While advertising remains important from an awareness standpoint, less than 14% of people trust it, while 76% of people trust what their friends and peers say about a product or a person. You want to be the person “others” are recommending.

To become a person of influence we have to understand – relationships are back! People do not want to be sold or told what to do. They want someone who will listen to them, someone who cares and someone who is actively engaged in their success. And if you are not that person, you are automatically filtered out – consumers are becoming conditioned with an automatic information filter. Bombarded with so much information everyday, anything that does not benefit or add value to our lives we filter out. Face it, the consumer is in control of the buying cycle. Our job – if we want to be successful – is to take the time to invest in the relationship and take the time to add value to our prospects business and personallife.

How do we do that? By following the New Rules of Networking!
1. It is not about you! So many people tell me they hate to network and sell because they never know what to say. Well, I have good news for you. You do not need to talk about you – you need to get to know others. Listen to what they are saying, so you can learn who they are, what they do and how you can benefit them.

2. Be a farmer not a hunter. When I first got into sales – we were hunters/skinners. Great idea if hunters are few, prey is plentiful and you only need one time return from the kill. Not the world we are living in. Hunters are plenty, prey is few and we all need these relationships to yield multiple fruit! So, think like a farmer – over plant your seeds, give first – nurture, nurture, nurture. Then sit back and reap a plentiful harvest when the plant grows big and strong.

3. Introduce yourself effectively. If you are good at networking this is important as it will be the last time you talk about you. You have to tell people who you are and what problem you solve. Why you are different. You want to be memorable. For example, if I tell people I am Meridith Elliott Powell owner of MRP Profit Strategies, I am strategic coach, trainer and speaker. Well that does not tell them a whole lot. But if I say, I am a strategic coach, trainer and speaker specializing in sales and networking. Basically, I help people turn their prospects into clients – and their clients into champions. Well now I have made an impression!

4. Ask Questions. Again you want to find out about people – who they are, what they do, why they do, what their biggest challenges are, how their business is doing in this economy. Why? so you can determine if this is someone you want and need to build a relationship with and how you can add value.

5. Add Value. What does this person need? Introductions to other people, articles on specific topic, an invitation to an event? How can you begin to build a relationship? Making a sales call is a right you earn. You have to invest and build before you can sell.

6. Follow-up. Any relationship you want, you need to understand you are responsible for making it happen. Do not get discouraged when people do not return phone calls or offer to meet you. They may be busy or you may not have truly added value yet. Rejection simply means, that your prospect does not understand the benefit for them – you have not yet tapped their interest. So, you simply have more work to do, but trust you will find the answer and the relationship will unfold, healthy, strong and plentiful.

To be successful in this new economy, you need to play by these new rules. Market first – build a product, brand so strong people want to meet with you, they seek you out. Then and only then have you earned the right to sell.