Take Small Steps for Long-term Networking Success

Take Small Steps for Long-term Networking Success

Many professionals who want business networking success attempt to gain it in a single leap, often by asking for business when they first meet someone. This is highly ineffective and typically leads to disappointment. They are looking at short-term results from one interaction.

This is my definition of networking:
Networking is the process of developing and activating your relationships to increase your business, enhance your knowledge, and expand your sphere of influence or serve the community.

The key word is relationships. Successful networking always begins with a genuine desire to build relationships for the purpose of giving and receiving business.
When someone is networking only to gain and not to give, they will never be successful.

Relationships Take Time

First, you meet someone, have a conversation, get to know a bit about them and their business. You follow up after the initial meeting, then meet again to learn more about their company so you can help them get even more business. All these steps take time, and they are crucial to building mutually beneficial relationships that lead to opportunities for you both.

Several years ago, I was talking with a friend who was a partner in an international consulting and training company. We discovered that we had a mutual acquaintance who was a bestselling author and well-known speaker. In our discussion, we discovered that he had contacted each of us individually to find out if there were any possibilities for some type of strategic alliance with our companies.

When he contacted us, we were both open to that possibility, however, we couldn’t see an immediate way that our companies could work with him to do any specific projects at that time. We were both rather amused to then discover that we were summarily “dropped” from his radar; we received no response to emails or other attempts to connect after that.

He obviously didn’t want to build a relationship. It seemed like he was looking for the one big alliance that would help his company soar to the next level. That realization started a conversation about the difference in the relationship with him, and the relationship between me and my friend.

A Series of Small Actions

Ironically, my friend and I had the same type of phone call with each other just 18 months earlier and came to the same conclusion. There was nothing on a grand scale we could do together at that moment. The difference, however, was the rest of the story.

We agreed to stay in touch. And then we did. We connected several times over the year and met in person on several occasions. During that time, we found some simple ways to help each other and gradually enhanced the business relationship. This was in sharp contrast to the third party we had talked to individually. When that person didn’t see any fast and big payoff in one conversation, we became persona non grata to him. On the other hand, the two of us found ways to help each other and continued to build on our relationship one step at a time.

We came to the conclusion that most people who are successful at business networking and creating strong strategic alliances view the process as a series of small actions taken with many people to create long-term positive growth for your company. The process is more of a marathon than a sprint. Throughout the race, you form alliances, and you help each other over the long haul.

Have you had a similar experience? I’d like to hear your thoughts in the comment forum below. Thanks!




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3 thoughts on “Take Small Steps for Long-term Networking Success

  1. From 2007 until 2016, I was a business bank for a large bank in my area. During that time, I developed a relationship with one of my clients, a Piano business. I would regularly meet with him to see how I could help him. Fast forward to 2016, I left banking and became a commercial Realtor. Of course, “Toby” and I stayed in touch with one another. I remained his “advisor” in all things. In 2021, after several reviews of his tax returns over the years, I finally was able to share with him that his company would now qualify to purchase a property for his Piano business (which he had wanted to do for years). Long story short, HE found a building that he was intersted in. Instead of him just calling the listing agent, he called me to represent him. That sale was for $2.1 million! “Toby” still calls me regularly for advice! Now that’s a relationship!

  2. Networking is not sprint but a Marathon in my experience. Authenticity plays a big role and in person social connect makes a huge difference. A well written blog . Enjoyed read it .

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