The benefits of a comprehensive networking strategy help you to form mutually beneficial relationships. Networking also helps you to develop meaningful connections with others who can help you grow your business by giving you referrals.
One of the common networking myths that may be costing you business is: if I give referrals, I’ll immediately get referrals. You probably have heard me say this many times: Expecting to land business the first time you meet someone is like asking someone to marry you on the first date.
Many networkers have a misperception about the principle of reciprocity. According to Weber’s Dictionary, reciprocity is “a mutual or cooperative interchange of favors or privileges,” This leads inexperienced or impatient networkers to believe giving referrals will bring an immediate return for any referrals they give to another.
One strategy to remember while adopting the principle of reciprocity is to focus on the other person. The act of giving something that is of value to the other person is important to building lasting relationships. Networking isn’t about what you can sell or get, it’s about what you can learn about others and what you can give to them.
At an informal networking lunch, I helped a colleague make a difficult decision. I just listened to her thoughts on her business, provided some advice (that she asked for) and she made a huge shift resulting in a significant increase in her revenue and achieving a quality of life at the same time. There was no expectation in return. It was just a genuine concern for her success.
Months later, something remarkable happened. She referred me to an organization who hired me for a keynote at a national conference. The conference was filled with my ideal clients.
To nurture your network, try these ways of giving:
• Share your networking colleague’s blog article with your community
• Actively connect two people who are in your circle of influence that may not yet know each other but may be great referral sources for one another
• Offer support in a time of need
• Publicly acknowledge your networking colleague’s recent accomplishment through social media
These simple steps will bring benefits to your business in ways that will positively affect your business relationships for the long term. When you consistently apply these ways of giving, you will become known as a trusted resource. After all, people do business with people they know, like and trust.