A few years back, I received an email from someone who read an article I wrote about collaboration and working together. They said, “The type of networking you talk about describes the way things should work, but in the real world most people seem to have an attitude of what’s in it for me.” Then they asked, “How can I prevent wasting my time and efforts on people, only to find that they have this kind of attitude?”
I thought it was a great question and I gave a short answer – stop hanging out with the wrong kind of people and start actively seeking out the right kind of people. Trust me, I’ve been there and done that when it comes to getting stuck with the wrong people.
To move beyond that and build a network that wants to help YOU (knowing that you also want to help them) you have to recognize that it is a journey, not a destination. Building a strong network for business success is more like a marathon than a sprint. It takes an investment of time to find and get to know those professionals with a Givers Gain® attitude with whom you can build long-term referral relationships.
How to Find Networking Partners
It starts with finding people who have a giving attitude. These are some of the traits of good networking partners:
- People who sincerely ask how they can help you or what they can offer you before they ask anything from you.
- Individuals who show that they are willing to create a professional relationship over a period of time, because they understand that they must develop credibility with you before asking for your business or your referrals.
- People who make the time to go beyond normal business interactions with those whom they want to be able to ask for support in the future.
- Professionals who understand that networking is more about farming than hunting and show it in their actions. They make the effort to get to know you outside of the business environment whenever possible, knowing that the more of a friendship there is between you, the more expectations you can both have from each other’s networking efforts.
- People who do what they can to bring business and contacts to you and to their other networking partners. They share pertinent, helpful information with you, and invite you to business meetings that will favorably position you with others you want to meet.
- Individuals who give of their time and knowledge to help their referral sources succeed. They gladly celebrate the successes of their networking partners and tell others about them.
You want to find people who understand that it takes time and who are willing to GIVE business in order to get business.
At its core, business networking is about taking the time to build genuine, trusted relationships. Simply meeting someone and being visible is not enough. Having visibility without building trust won’t get you very far in the long run.
Remember, a network that is a mile wide and an inch deep is not a strong network. You want to create a personal network that is both wide and deep. Building meaningful relationships is the key to making it happen. Meet with people regularly and participate in networking groups where you see the same quality of professionals on a consistent basis. This will help you develop mutually beneficial relationships and screen out the “what’s in it for me?” types.
I think it is also important to have an abundance mind-set in business networking and referral marketing. This happens with an awareness that there is more than enough business to go around. People can sense desperation, and it is NOT referable. Successful networkers choose an abundance mind-set over a scarcity mentality.
As you read these suggestions and look for good networking partners, look at yourself. Do YOU have these traits? Are YOU willing to help others get more business before seeking business for yourself?
Instead of asking, “What’s in it for me?” ask others what you can do for them.
What are your thoughts? I’d like to hear them in the comment section.