A colleague asked me the other day how we get so much of our business without cold calling. I said to her – ‘Well, you see, I think the rules that apply to networking are a bit like Christianity’. She replied ‘Networking is like Christianity? What?!’ Most of my colleagues think I am slightly off the planet!
Let me explain what I meant by that.
In networking – there are people who get it right and plenty of people who get it wrong. Lets talk about how to get it wrong first.
It is very simple to get it wrong and it goes like this.
OK – I am going to a networking event, my objective is to get business. I will take as many business cards as I can – give them out to as many people as I can, collect as many cards as I can and hopefully the delegate list too, and will have my elevator pitch perfected so everyone knows how great my business is in 2 minutes. Then I can contact them all after and they will all want to do business with me, obviously, right? WRONG….
Or it goes like this.
Oh – I have just accidentally met someone who I know can be good for my business – a potential client or perhaps someone who can introduce me to a lot of people I want to speak to. Let me tell them how great my business is (good job I recently worked on my elevator pitch for that networking event I went to), give them my card, try to get theirs and then I can do business with them / use their contacts in the future. That’s great right?? WRONG……
‘Networking’ is not a new business idea, it’s not a sales technique, and it’s not a trick. Networking is as old as the hills. It is about 2 people meeting, finding out about each other, building rapport, seeing if they like each other, building a relationship. If you are good at making friends you will be naturally good at networking. If you are friends with someone – you naturally want to help them, and they want to help you. THAT’S what networking is about.
So why is it like Christianity?
1. To thine own self be true. Jesus said it …well actually Shakespeare said it in Hamlet – what Jesus said was – if you are not true to yourself, whatever you gain materially will not benefit you – or something along those lines but I think Shakespeare’s version is punchier! Whether you believe he was the Son of God or not – he instigated a worldwide religion so he may be worth listening to (would you like that many followers?). In networking you HAVE to be genuine. You HAVE to be YOU. You have to actually like people and WANT to help the people you meet.
2. Do unto others whatever you would have them do unto you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets…… It is also the unwritten law of networking. If you want others to help you – YOU HAVE TO HELP THEM. It’s NOT about collecting the most business cards. It’s NOT about doing the perfect elevator pitch as many times as possible. It IS about a genuine desire to grow your network of like-minded people and to help those people to form relationships with each other, which will – without even ‘trying’ – enable you all to grow your businesses.
3. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must become your servant……In other words – if you want to stand out – HELP others. The most admired leaders are not the ones who shout about themselves all the time, but the ones who attribute their success to others, and who are more interested in helping their customers than filling their pockets. Everyone wants to do business with them. The admired salespeople are the ones who do not appear to sell, but form relationships with their customers and have the customers interests as the only thing that matters.
4. Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door will be opened to you. If you are doing 1 – 3 then you can do 4. If you need something and you ask your network someone will help you. But you only get that help if you are first a giver!
OK, Sermon on the PC over!
Till next time
PS – Yes, I do have a degree in Theology!