Two Keys to Finding the Right Networking Partners

I once received an interesting e-mail from a man who read an article I wrote about collaboration and working together.  He 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.”  He asked, “How can I prevent wasting my time and efforts on people, only to find that they have this kind of attitude?”

The short answer to his question is this—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 and in order to move beyond that and build the kind of network that wants to help YOU (knowing that you also want to help them) is a journey—not a destination.

I have two suggestions to make finding the right networking partners easier. First, look for some of the signs relating to people who fit the profile of good networkers.  They include:

  • People who ask how they can help you or what they can offer you (and mean it), before they ask anything from you.
  • Individuals who show that they are willing to work on creating 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.
  • Those who make the time to go beyond the normal business interactions with those from whom they want to be able to ask for support.
  • Professionals who understand that networking is more about farming than hunting and show it in their actions by making 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 their other networking partners, who share pertinent information with you, and invite you to business meetings that’ll position you favorably with others you need to get to know.
  • Individuals who give of their time and knowledge in order to help their referral sources succeed.

Second, immerse yourself in the process of relationship building.   

A network that is a mile wide and an inch deep is not a strong network.  Create a personal network that is both wide and deep.  Meeting with people regularly is the key to making this happen.  Participate in networking groups where you are going to see the same people on a regular basis.  This will help you develop relationships and screen out the what’s in it for me networkers.

Think about your current networking partners . . . who is one of your most trusted, most valued networking partners?  I’d love to hear the story behind how you met this person and how you formed such a trusted, mutually beneficial networking partnership.  Please share your story in the comments section–thanks!

11 thoughts on “Two Keys to Finding the Right Networking Partners

  1. 2009年的10月到現在,

    October 2009 to the present,
    Every week my BNI members meet,
    We establish a sense of trust like family,
    We also make fast and efficient quality business cooperation!
    Thanks to BNI, I love BNI! !

  2. This is an excellent article and very timely. Indeed, effective networking involves establishing the right connections in terms of the more elusive added value attributes that include mutual trust and genuineness. The right “relationships” do not happen overnight and must be carefully cultivated over time if they are to be of mutual value.

    I have found it interesting that such relationships need not occur on a face-to-face platform, but can actually develop ‘virtually.’ One can say that there is nothing like looking at a person’s eyes–as the mirror to the soul–in order to gauge who they are, but I have discovered that this is not necessarily true. This is especially meaningful today, because so many of our relationships depend on maneuvering through a virtual environment and solidifying partnerships with no geographical boundaries.

    Engagement through transparency continues to be my preferred authentication process for determining which people to partner with. This means that one must be willing to take the risk of being taken advantage of from time to time, but I find it to be well worth it. Weeding out the risk of becoming committed to toxic partnerships means undertaking the risk of showing others who you really are and sharing with them the best that you have to offer, with no real expectation of getting something in return.

    trust me this is the perfect platform for nurturing and developing such a network sphere . Each and every member in BNI has all the qualities structurally nourished which you have mentioned.

  4. Ok Ivan. Let me tell you about Ian. He came to my group when it was established but not big. A Mancunian. Ex military type. He has his own cleaning business. He was, I think, what you might call a bit of a rough diamond. My impression is that he had heard about this networking lark and was curious. I think his approach was very much the old school type of get out and sell sell sell. I seem to remember him not really clicking with the concept of givers gain and philosophies like that. However, he stuck with it. We got to know him and he us. Now I can confidently say he is my most staunch and regular member. He gives a lot to the group though he probably wouldn’t think so. He is a super member and a great friend.

  5. Hi, Samuel. I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog and share your thoughts and feedback here in this comment forum. You certainly have a very healthy mindset when it comes to networking and I definitely agree with you that networking online is an extremely valuable way to network—I often say that it should not be either face-to-face networking or online networking, but rather an effort at successfully utilizing BOTH face-to-face AND online networking avenues.

    I noticed you expressed an interest in BNI and I invite you to visit if you would like to learn about BNI’s unique, strategic approach to networking. Also, I see that you have a question regarding what types of people one might want to avoid when networking . . . in my opinion, I would avoid people who do the exact opposite of what is outlined in the bullet point list shown in the blog post above (I would also avoid these types of people:

    Thanks again for your valuable feedback and I wish you all the best in your networking efforts.

    1. Dr. Misner, thank you so much for your kind words. I am going to seek out members in the local BMI branch (Atlanta) and join. This is very timely, as I am undergoing a transitional period in my life and looking to become more entrepreneurial. Please kindly click on my name so that you can get a sense of my background and interests. I am excited that my efforts to encourage networking for my students has, in turn, helped me become a better networker.

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