Networking On And Offline

Wednesday, February 6, 2008 by Mistlee

Networking On And Offline

By Matt Bailey

John Jantsch posed a question a few days ago, " Is networking online really that different?"

Precisely. It's not.

Networking is the best way to grow your contacts, your business, build sales and relationships. I've found that the more pervasive social networking tools are online; they still reflect the primary essence of personal networking. I have met countless people online, yet when we are able to finally meet face-to-face, it changes the relationship and deepens it. There is a shared commonality at first, but then a friendship ensues.

Networking Breakfasts

I've been a member of many breakfast networking groups, which I've always enjoyed. Meeting new people and visiting with acquaintances has always been an enjoyable draw to attend those meetings. It is also something that I miss, being so digitally driven these days. Nothing can really take the place of face-to-face interaction.

Back to the point . . . . One of the networking meetings that I attended opened every week with the introduction that we "do business with those that we like, know and trust." That is the essence of networking and building a network of people. These are also three things that can't be faked easily. It was easy to spot the people that came to the networking meetings expecting a quick sale. They would usually attend for about 3-4 meetings, but then quietly left. The potential of quick sales was not there, only the investment of time into other people. Networking isn't a quick fix for sales; it is an investment in getting to know other people.

Another easy spot in the networking game is the "what can you do for me?" person. They realize that they quick sale may not happen, but you can't talk to them without feeling as though they are sizing you up all of the time. With very little genuine interest in you, the conversation focuses on them. They like to keep score, and expect much from others.

Relationship First

John makes an excellent first point of networking best practices:

It's never about the sale, it's always about the relationship - build first by giving

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Regardless of the social media website, widget, or campaign, building relationships always proves to provide longer-lasting results. It also makes a big difference as to who invites you to join new networks, as many people hold higher levels of trust and like-ability. People are more likely to take a recommended action when you have proven yourself to be trustworthy, like-able and knowledgeable.

Investments in People

Taking the time to simply talk with people is an invaluable investment that has far-reaching results. Many times, I've been able to visit with a networking group that I haven't attended in years, but still experience a warm reception. That only happens when it's about the people and not the business.

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