Networking Is Not Like What It Used to Be

Ron Sukenick Networking, Relationships, Strategy, Systems

As we move into the year 2010 and beyond, there is a lot to think about and understand as it relates to world of networking and business relationship development.

In fact, let me begin with a shocking statement that should take many of you including my colleagues by surprise.

Networking is DEAD.

In my opinion, networking as we know it today has been dying a slow death since about 1995.

And, if you think that you’re going to continue doing what you have been doing as it relates to business networking, you’re making a big mistake.

Now don’t get offended by my statement. I really don’t mean any harm.

It’s just true.

In another soon to be released observation, I’ll be discussing what I call the “The Joy of Interaction” and what networking has in common.

But for now, let’s get back to this observation.

The facts about networking

  • Networking is awkward for most people
  • Networking is hit and miss for most people
  • Networking is always situational
  • Networking in most instances is about individual success
  • Most networkers are not following up with people they meet
  • Networking is never about you; it’s always about the other person

So with that said, I’ve chosen to make some suggestions on what you should consider doing to make the most from the business networking relationships you have developed and are in the process of developing.

By doing so, you’ll get closer to making the most from your business networking relationships as you move through 2010.

15 top suggestions for greater networking success in 2010

1. Invest more time with people

The biggest investment you will make in building relationships and proving out a productive working relationship is TIME. Simply stated, the more you know and understand others, the more likely that relationship will flourish.

2. Become purpose driven

If building relationships are going to be at the forefront of your networking activities, then you first have to strengthen your relationship with yourself.

Self-reflection on your reason for being and your purpose and vision is an important part of that process. If you don’t take the time to sit back and work on yourself, who will?

3. Create unparalleled visibility

The bottom line for more business in 2010 is simply becoming more visible. That means getting targeted with face to face and online social networks.

While Facebook is a cool place to hang out, consider strengthening your profile and connection base on such sites as LinkedIn, and other industry specific platforms to make more of a professional impact worldwide.

Also, take a closer look at the micro sites that are local to the area where you are marketing your services and creating impact.

4. Develop relationship strategies

Everyone talks about relationships. Now you can do something about it.

A relationship strategy is anything that you can do that adds value to others. Strategies put you in command and control of your relationship mindset. Don’t just talk about it. Do something about it. Develop your strategies today.

If you would like a list of 15 top relationship strategies to begin working with, check out my FREE Relationship Strategies Blueprint.

If you need help with implementing these strategies, get in touch with me.

5. Relentlessly follow up

Think about some of the recent networking events you attended and ask yourself the following questions:

  • From the 10-15 people you met, how many actually followed up with you by mail, e-mail, or phone to say – “What a pleasure it was meeting you at the recent any-town Chamber of Commerce event”?
  • Then ask yourself the same question – How many people did you actually follow up with a note, e-mail, or even a phone call?

See what I mean? Nobody is following up with anybody.

If you need a simple follow-up system that works every time, then download another one of my FREE resources called Benefiting From the Magic of Six.

6. Be in a hurry

The biggest driving force in most countries continues to be speed. People want what they want, and they want it NOW!

Take the moment and dance with it. Don’t wait to get better connected. And don’t wait to provide the support that’s needed now by the many people you’re meeting.

When you act on the environment, you’re being proactive. By being proactive, you’re generating excitement, energy, focus, and enthusiasm, thus leading to greater success.

If most of your efforts are in the reactive mode, it’s simply a slower process and you’re generating fatigue and crisis management, which often leads to failure.

7. Find ways to become more useful and resourceful to others

Simply stated, whatever you have done to satisfy anyone yesterday, it won’t be enough to satisfy them tomorrow.

I want to suggest that you immediately look for no less than six ways that you can become more useful and resourceful to others. Let me give you a hint. Keep meeting people. The more people you know that know what to do next, and know how to get things done, the more useful and resource you will be.

8. Increase your frequency of interaction

Increased interaction brings increased cooperation with others. Too many times people fail to follow up with the people they’re meeting. If you can get up to six interactions with anyone, it’s likely that you’ll have a good beginning for a relationship that will never end.

Revisit suggestion #5 for more comments to support this suggestion.

9. Join a referral club

There is a distinction in the kinds of networks that exist. Go for the strong contact, referral giving groups.

The BNI’s, LeTips, and the newest and closely watched Gold Star Referral Club are for sure your best bet for the greatest return on your time and money invested.

In fact, I’m a director with Gold Star and would be interested in you helping me build referral networks all over the country. If you’d like more information, please get in touch with me.

10. Connect the dots as often as you can

This suggestion is all about making the most from the Small World Phenomena. When was the last time you heard that infamous expression – It’s such a small world isn’t it?

Keep in mind that the power in your networking efforts is always in the connection. The connection between you and the people you’re meeting is never between you and the people you’re meeting. It’s between you, them, and something else that you have in common.

If you want to learn more about this process, check out my article “It’s such a small world isn’t it?”

11. Increase the rewardingness

If you want people to act the way you want them to act, you have to increase the rewards of being and doing business with you. Whether it’s knowing more people, becoming a better listener, or even just putting in a toll free number to reach you, people will always respond to something they like and appreciate. Keep the rewards coming.

12. Take the joy of interaction to higher levels

Let’s face it. The reason you love this thing called networking is clearly because of what I call the “Joy of Interaction.” Isn’t it fun? I didn’t say it was productive. I just said its fun.

So when you’re out interacting with others, consider bringing the following characteristics to the table – fun, excitement, passion, creativity, dependability, responsibility and support. Make it a joyful experience for the people you’re meeting.

13. Go after the relationship, not just the sale

This is the very reason why most people find networking so ineffective – they’re just going after the sale. When looking to build your business, think relationships first.

14. Don’t manage people, manage the system

Systems build business and are more predictable and reliable.

In a networking environment, it’s very difficult to get people to do what you want them to do, and if you could, it would have to be with their own willingness to get it done. My suggestion is that you stick to a predictable system that works every time.

If you want a fun metaphor for how you can build relationships with the use of a system, check out Ron’s Toaster story.

15. Listen three times as much

When you speak, you learn what you know. When you listen, you learn what others know. The power has always been in the listening.

Here’s a good question you should ask yourself – When was the last time anyone said to you, “Thanks for taking the time to listen?” If it’s been while, go back to work and become a great listener.

In fact, great listeners have great connections.

So when all is said and done, stay focused, challenge your thinking and underlying beliefs, be more strategic, go after the relationship, connect the dots, make the connection, and always take the moment and dance with it.