By Stephen Rhodes
Think of all the people you know. Now put them into tiny little boxes. They are your neighbors, business associates, service club comrades, church community, close friends, casual acquaintances, schoolmates, family friends, relatives ….for many of us it can be an endless list.
This is your life network. The relationship you have with most of these people is likely one of friendship, trust and respect.
Good business networks are much the same. They rely on trust and respect and occasionally friendships.
I belong to a number of networks, organized groups that meet regularly. We get together to talk about business and how we might help each other prosper. One group cuts a swath through a wide range of services – financial planning, logistics, staffing service, sign design, real estate, decorating, accounting, career management, web design, air conditioning service, computer management, business advice and training and a fellow who designs executive writing instruments.
At first blush, you might think there is little in common here, yet our group has exchanged some business. But the real value of group is not so much who is at the table for breakfast but rather who they know. Building trust and respect in the group is important before members feel confident in referring your services to their friends and business associates.
Once that happens, you network multiplies exponentially. The personal contacts and referrals that come from networking can overcome fear and build trust.
Networking is about building relationships and I highly recommend it. Networking should be part of your business life every day.
Any contact with anyone, including your life network, can conceivably be an opportunity to grow your business. However, like all things in life, it’s important to find balance. It’s important to develop long-term relationships not just quick sales. High pressure never works in a network.
Remember, you reap what you sow. If you help other people get what they want, the world is your oyster. Do for others…….you know the rest. Be patient. If you expect others to return the favour next week, you will lose their trust. Be selfless and it will come about.