My wife and I were discussing networking some time back (don’t ask me when, I thought it was last week when it was actually months ago). Anyway, she says to me she says, “I need to be networking with people that I can actually work with helping each other, not just me recommending them and their company but getting little or nothing in return.” I agreed because it definitely seemed logical.
People in business working together to help each other promote business.
That is what networking groups are supposed to be providing. Often, I found myself paying money to belong to a group that some fit into much more readily than I ever did. Besides, I have to work, I don’t have time to be going to all those meetings and group luncheons. Don’t get me wrong, some of what they do is quite beneficial but I always felt that the groups benefit a few, more than the many.
Today, I had the opportunity to put the thought into practice.
A nice woman came into my office. We’ll call her Dawn because that is the name on her business card. 😉 Dawn is very professional, courteous and friendly. She and I were able to chat for a few moments about our businesses and I was impressed with her sense of CSR (which, as we all know, around this place means customer service relationships). Dawn is a consultant for a security company.
I rambled, she was polite; I offered her coffee, which is something I would’ve done anyway but it being National Coffee Day seemed more fitting. She declined (because she really prefers tea) but thought it was nice of me to offer and wondered if the beverage company representative from the business card I have on my counter had told me about National Coffee Day. “Actually, I heard it on the news this morning,” I replied. And then it struck me as fast a lightening.
My wife is sales manager for the water filtration and beverage company she works for; Dawn is a consultant for her company; they’re both really nice people who do not believe in high-pressure sales tactics and they probably have or would have many of the same type customers. Why not make the suggestion? I thought to myself. So, I did; and will when I get home. Dawn appeared thoughtful and said she thought that was a good idea and she took the business card. They may not use each others’ services but they might be able to point each other to appropriate customers that they think will be interested in the services the other can provide.
So, imagine in your own business, instead of just handing out cards to most everyone in the room, discover who has the same or similar customer base. That’s right, you must communicate with other people. Exchange ideas through speech and hearing. Build a relationship(s) with that one or those few people and work together, the way a networking group should to promote each of you when the opportunity arises. You’re not going to recommend the other person to everyone and anyone but you will when you know or believe their is a potential need of someone for the other person’s services; as they will for you. Now, you’re part of a team dedicated and willing to work together to forward the progress of each others’ success.
And in the process, you may find, wait for it…a friend. It’s worth a try.
Update: Since I got home, my wife informed me that Dawn phoned her and they will be checking their calendars to set up a meet. “Ture Networking”