I don’t ever look forward to ‘networking’ events.
I do, though, really enjoy events where I can ‘build relationships’ – same thing, just a different perspective.
Recently, my wife Pam was given some feedback…about me. The comment from someone I know quite well through ‘relationship building’ events went along the lines of “I can’t imagine Craig doing public speaking because at networking he never says much. I’ve watched him. He’s a very good networker!”
I do like to confuse people. I find it keeps them on their toes.
I learned how to network by watching others do it and deciding what I liked and what I didn’t like about what I saw. These days my chosen communication style in this very specific arena is to listen far more than I talk. It’s simple and consciously deliberate and more importantly, it works for me.
I build relationships by being genuinely interested in the individual next to me.
I never ‘sell’ or ‘tell’ about what I can do for them or the people they may know. I listen and ask questions which means I get to know them over time.
I believe that if you see a person as a potential source of income or referral then you are not treating them as a fellow human being. In my opinion, this is not the way to build trust or long-term relationships.
If I’ve learned anything about communication in networking environments it’s to listen 70% of the time and talk 30% of it by hopefully adding something of interest or value to the conversation. The classic two ears, one mouth example is a perfect reminder to listen twice as much as you talk. I’ve learned built relationships and even made friends doing precisely that.
Oh and yes, here’s one more secret…it’s won me contracts and referrals countless times…not overnight, that’s true. Then again, to build relationships and friendships takes time, effort and consistency. If the opportunity presents then I can propose solutions based on my skills and services but by that time people know that they can trust me.
There you are that’s something I like to do – I’ve under promised and over delivered – two secrets for the price of one!