“It is not what you know, but who you know that counts”. No one can deny the effectiveness of this famous adage. There are multiple success stories where a contact referred a contact to another contact that landed his/her biggest career or business break.
But what’s for sure is that you’ll never know when it will happen. So let us focus on what we can control. How do you even build a network that can help you in the long run?
Is it a numbers game? Should you attend every event you possibly can? Should you scour the crowd of their business cards? Although this may provide some good contacts, everyone should go beyond just business networking.
Lasting relationships are key to a strong business. And this is how you can build one.
Be Confident about Yourself
First off, you have to be confident about yourself. People get attracted to individuals who are secured and have high self-esteem. I’m not saying you brag your way to every person.
What I’m suggesting is that you should know your worth. Write on a piece of paper everything awesome about you. And know that you are offering this awesomeness if you become friends with each other.
You heard it right. We build friendships even in business. Of course, you should still be professional. But in business networking, your end goal should not be a bunch of dollar signs for every person you meet.
Your goal is to gain a friend at the end of the day regardless.
Establish a Connection
The first step in meeting new friends is establishing a connection. People would buy, recommend, and advocate for the people they like. And if you have client friends, they can be loyal to your brand and forgiving just in case you screw up.
Be Genuinely Interested
To effectively establish a connection, you should be genuinely interested in the other person (Stop your dirty mind. I’m not hinting any sexual thing). You probe further and ask questions because you are really curious about this person.
“Oh, right. What do you do? Really! Why do you like robotics?”
When asking questions, get a chance to find common ground. People start to be friends with people who share their interests and/or goals. Make sure to listen to get these cues. There are countless people who think about what they will say next rather than listening to what the person is actually saying. But you are different, right?
Expound on the responses that you find interesting. And let them speak more and discuss more. Let them feel good when they interact with you.
In this conversation, you gain not only what they like, but also a step to their trust.
Remember Important Things
After exchanging contacts and all, remember your conversation. Remember the important things they value.
You would know these things when you listened well. These are topics that they are so passionate about. You can feel their enthusiasm. See the sparkle in their eyes as they discuss the wonders of mushroom farming or their love of collectible automobiles.
You can use this interest to know how to communicate or help them also later.
Platinum Rule: Aim to Bring Value Yourself
We all know the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto. Put it up a notch. Practice the platinum rule: Treat others they want to be treated. This is regardless of how they treat you.
Aim to bring value to your new friends regardless if they will give value to you. Remember the important things in your last conversation? This will come in handy.
If you have a new friend who likes automobiles, and you serendipitously saw a rare model of an automobile s/he might like, why not message your friend.
“Hey! How are you? I saw this great collector automobile on sale. Do you want me to give you their details?”
Or you saw this FB post from a new friend looking for a graphic designer, why not tag the best graphic designer you know?
If you unconditionally help people, they might help you in the future too.
Building a network might not be fruitful at first. But you’ll be surprised when you built it well. You not only get business leads but also potential lifelong friends in the long run. Have fun!