Less Can Be More
Cutting Back on Networking Efforts in order to Cultivate Strong Business Alliances
In his article “Less Networking Can Mean More,” Ivan Misner suggests that referral networking is more like farming than hunting. Imagine each contact as a seed you’ve planted. If you leave your contacts in order to continually plant more seeds, then all your networking efforts are in vain. You must take the time to cultivate your business contacts in order for them to become profitable alliances. Because of this, cutting back on your networking efforts in order to nurture relationships with current contacts could be the best thing you ever did for your business. While we’re not suggesting you stop networking altogether, we are encouraging you to evaluate your referrals and see what you can do to cultivate those relationships into profitable business relationships. Here are five tips that will get you started:
1. Aim for quality, not quantityAt some point it’s important to sift through your contacts and determine which you’d like to develop into strong business alliances. This requires you focus on quality rather than quantity. Look at each contact and determine how valuable he/she could be to your business. Which have the potential to provide you with the most referrals? And which do you feel a natural connection with? Once you have a solid list of leads to follow, you must take action and cultivate those relationships.2. Follow-upCall or email your contacts as soon as possible. It’s important to make this connection while your initial introduction is still fresh on their minds. The longer you wait to cultivate these relationships, the more likely that initial enthusiasm will fizzle and disappear. And most important as you follow up – be genuine and friendly. Your business relationships should be mutually rewarding and all correspondence should communicate your interest in building win/win relationships.3. Meet regularlyConsider your most valuable friendships. Most are built through regular, enjoyable interactions. In order to build profitable business relationships you must meet regularly. This can happen over lunch, at the gym, on the phone or via email, but it’s important that each interaction promote your business alliances with these associates.4. Ask questionsIt’s important for you to understand what makes your contacts tick. What are their interests and goals? Only then can you determine how you can benefit their efforts and make yourself more valuable to them. Asking questions is the perfect place to start. In his article “How to Cultivate a Network of Endless Referrals” Bob Burg suggests starting with these questions: What do you enjoy most about what you do? And how can I know if someone I speaking with would be a good prospect for you? These questions illustrate how it’s not only important to ask questions, but to ask the right questions. The right questions imply an interest in your contact that will go far in building a profitable business alliance.5. Demonstrate your willingness to giveIf you’re asking the right questions in number 4, then you’re demonstrating an interest in helping your contact just as much as you would like them to help you. Refrain from giving that schpeel about your business; be willing to listen to what your contact has to say. Offer to help their efforts when possible, always demonstrating your interest in building a give-and-take relationship.
While networking is an important tool in building your business, unless you cultivate those contacts into profitable business alliances you’re wasting your time meeting and greeting people whose contact information will remain filed in your rolodex. Take time to assess your contacts and then cultivate those relationships that will be most profitable to you and your business.ReferencesBurg, Bob. “How to Cultivate a Network of Endless Referrals.” About.comMisner, Ivan. “Less Networking Can Mean More.” Entrepreneur.com 29 October 2007