Who do people do business with? People they like and trust. And they’re much more likely to do business with you if they have an actual relationship with you.
Okay, that’s elementary, but let’s map that simple truth onto the typical networking experience and see how inadequate it is.
You “work the room,” telling each person what you do and passing out cards, then you dutifully listen to what they do and take their card before moving on.
That’s drive-by networking. There’s no real contact made. No real relationship built and no real opening to get to really know each other and build a mutually beneficial and trusting relationship.
Is it better than nothing? I guess … if you can stand doing it. Someone may just happen to need the services you offer that day or they may keep your card and call you if the need arises. But man, counting on that kind of weak connection to build a business isn’t likely to get you very far.
You need to build a relationship, so the person comes to like and trust you.
Okay, so what do you do?
You make it your business to find out how you can become a vital resource to that person in their life and business in a manner that connects you to them in a meaningful way for the long term.
You give them the information they need, connect them with the people that can help them, and help them find solutions to their problems … even if that has nothing to do with the work you do. You do the kinds of things a friend would do … or at least offer to do … even though you don’t yet really know that person.
Let me tell you, taking on this approach and adopting the mindset that you’re there to do whatever you can to help people be successful will totally transform the networking experience. It’ll go from your having to endure a series of uncomfortable drive-bys to making bona fide connections … leading to the forging of full blown win-win relationships. And that’s exciting.
Authors Sandy Vilas and Donna Fisher coined the phrase, Power Networking to describe this approach. The process consists of “gathering, collecting, and distributing information for the mutual benefit of you and the people in your network.”
What makes this so different is it’s not about selling. It’s about figuring out what you can do for each and every person you meet vs. thinking how they can benefit you. It’s about giving of yourself with no strings attached.
And will you get back the same kind of energy and generosity and valuable resources you’re giving out? Absolutely.
You give and serve and by giving and serving, you inevitably get. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s the way the world should always work. People helping each other get what they need.
When you’re Power Networking, you’re not working the room. You’re working FOR the room. And you know what happens? The dread of having to engage in those painfully awkward, superficial drive-bys goes away. You feel good!
You’ll feel like a welcoming host instead of a guest who doesn’t know anybody … putting people together, taking care of their needs.
Look, trying to sell to strangers you’ve just met at a networking event falls short on two scores. It won’t be very effective and, if you’re like most people, you’ll probably hate doing it.
Power network and you’ll not only build a bigger client base over time, you’ll love interacting with those strangers … because they won’t be strangers for long. They’ll become friends … and they may even become clients or refer the people in their network to you. That’s usually how it works out.
Like I said, it’s a beautiful thing.