Networking today is not the Networking of Yesterday. Networking decades ago consisted of a small group of entrepreneurs and their followers who understood the value of true relationship building. Zig Ziglar, Dale Carnegie, John Maxwell, Jim Rohn, Tony Robbins, even Oprah, are just a few of the greats that focused on relationship building and have grown some of the biggest networks and businesses in the world.
They were and are the true greats…
OLD School Networking was smooshing for business. The old boys club-style networking was exclusive and had the philosophy of “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine”. Much of the time, those were the days of only doing business with someone who gave you their business first.
There are still some networking groups that have that philosophy of industry-exclusive networking. I believe they do still have their place. This type of networking, in my opinion, is great for brick and mortar businesses and business entrepreneurs who want to focus on business first referral relationships. There is nothing wrong with that if that is what you are looking for.
More and more, however, the landscape is changing. People want to get back to the basics - relationships first and business second. More and more, I meet people who say they want to be able to choose who they do business with and not be told who to buy from. They no longer focus their networking activities on handing out or collecting 100’s of business cards from people they have no relationship with. No longer are they focused to go out and spew their elevator speech on everyone they meet, but rather, they focus their activities spending their networking time getting to know more about the person first rather than their business first.
Please notice that I said more and more… we are not completely there yet, but times are changing and they are changing fast.
There will always be the people who go networking for “what’s in it for them”. They are the people that when they don’t get business after attending a networking event once or twice, move on to the next group. It’s all about choice and choice will determine results. In my practice, much of the time these are clients I have calling me to say "isn't that what I was supposed to do?" Unfortunately, this kind of hop in - hop out networking doesn't help them, it actually can work against them because they often get a reputation of being someone who is only interested in it for themselves and then they end up working harder to repair that damaged reputation.
I go to a lot of networking events and I am always fascinated to watch the faces of the attendees who get cornered by someone who is “pitching” intently to them. That look of “will someone please rescue me” is so apparent on their face, yet so completely oblivious to the hard-selling networker who has them at their mercy.
As a networking coach, I find that kind of networking a detriment to their business. They are pushing so hard that instead of building a professional relationship with someone, they are creating an avoidance relationship because most likely that person will never allow themselves to be cornered again. Even worse, that person will never refer anyone in their network to that person. Instead of building a strong business relationship, they end up creating a wall of resentment that will, unfortunately, impact the growth of their business and their bottom line.
Times are changing and so should the mindset about what networking is truly about. It’s no longer a given that because you network with someone, you are expected to do business with or even give business to that person. Networking, today is about building professional relationships so that you can create a super Rolodex of contacts that you can refer others to and do business with if you choose to use their services.
Today, most entrepreneurs build networks that create a reciprocal dance of giving to those they know, like and trust. They go to networking events to meet and get to know people; to date them and see if they want them in their rolodex.
Let’s leave the SELL-WORKING for the door-to-door salesperson and cold-caller. In that environment, we expect to get a hard sell pitch upfront. In the networking world, let's continue to build on that know, like and trust element and create the perfect rolodex for you and your network to grow for your future business successes.
I would love to connect.