Networking - The Power of Numbers
The expression “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” has powerful implications in marketing and business development. Having experience and credentials are crucial. They are the first step in securing business, regardless of the field. Equally important, however, is gaining access to people, information, and opportunities. Networking provides this access. It involves building and nurturing personal and professional relationships to create a system or chain of information, contacts, and support.
Many people avoid networking activities for a variety of reasons: lack of self-confidence, fear of rejection, unclear marketing message, disdain for social triviality, concerns about inauthentic relationships, and unease about sharing leads. Unfortunately, these concerns prevent them from benefiting from one of the best business development tools available. In today's market, given the economic challenges, networking is especially powerful since people are more cautious about making purchasing decisions and are more apt to use referrals when making purchases.
One of the best ways to overcome the fear of networking is to approach it from a different angle. Consider the following counter intuitive wisdom. In networking, it's better to give than to receive. Network with an intention to connect people and to be a resource for the success of others; to give leads rather than just to get leads. Networking with an intention to serve your contacts could significantly reduce your anxiety and improve your value in the community. When networking, ask others what they do and who you can refer to them. This is a great first step in building a two-way networking relationship. As you sow, so shall you reap.
Your focus on giving will yield both respect and leads since when you give you will create sense of reciprocity in your networking partner.
You can build your network informally with friends and associates or by attending formal meetings. Although the informal method is important, attending formal meetings is typically a better way to develop your network. It puts you in front of new people who have contacts beyond your existing network.
Now is not the time to sit back and to wait for business to come to you. There is often times great opportunity in difficult times. For many the challenges that we face force us to be and act differently. Putting yourself out there in front of people who would refer you to others is one of the best ways to be proactive about building your business.