One of the most important activities in growing a business is growing relationships. Many people think they can go out to networking events, hand their cards out and the business will come flowing in. It may happen like that, but not likely. It takes time, energy and effort to build a network. Through building that network you build relationships with people who know you, trust you and will do business with you.
I was at a networking event where I witnessed two men that had no clue what networking was all about. The first gentleman walked up to me, introduced himself, asked my name and proceeded to tell me what he did and how it could help me. He then left to talk to someone else and a second gentleman came up, introduced himself, didn’t bother to get my name, gave me promotional information about what he was selling and then went off to talk to someone else.
Neither of these men would remember me if I called them, and I have no idea if they are people I like or trust, so there isn’t a chance I will do business with them. Networking like this is a waste of time. Unless you’re willing to build your network, get to know the people, and perhaps see how you can help them, you might as well stay home.
Networking isn’t just for people who run their own businesses. All of us have a network of people we depend on. We might use their services, get referrals from them and ask for assistance when seeking a job. I call this cross-pollinating, and we all do it. It is vitally important that we build relationships with the people in our network so that we can obtain good tips and advice. If you neglect your network you might find yourself without resources or references when you most need them.