The #1 Rule in Business Networking

Need more business? Have you tried networking?

The number one reason why people go out networking is to get business. And yet I have never, ever, EVER heard anyone say they were at a networking event to buy or shop for anything. So if everyone is going to sell their product or service and yet no one is there to buy, you are right in the middle of an awkward situation of mixed intentions: people selling to people who are also selling.

It is much easier to make a friend than to find a client at a networking event.

It is much easier to make a friend than to find a client at a networking event.

The First rule in business networking: Networking is not a direct prospecting opportunity.

So then what the heck are we doing networking?

We are there to build relationships. Here’s the definition of networking that I share with every one of my Referral Success 101™ participants:

“The process of developing and activating your relationships to increase your business, enhance your knowledge, expand your sphere of influence, or serve the community.”

If you are looking to grow your business through networking, the key relationships you will want to build are with people in your contact sphere.

Contact Sphere definition: A group of businesses or professions that complement rather than compete with your business.

If you know me, you know that my number one networking group is BNI. BNI shares the same definition of Contact Sphere. I belong to another networking group that uses the term “power partner”:

A power partner serves the same client as you but does not compete with you.

 The Second rule to business networking: Build relationships with your Contact Sphere.

I’m not sure why this concept is so hard to understand. You are looking to build relationships with people who you can collaborate with. They can share their clients with you, you can share your clients with them, and together you can grow your businesses.

When you attended a networking event with these two rules in mind, you will find yourself feeling more satisfied because it is so much easier to enter a room and meet people than to prospect a room full of strangers for a new client.

-Maile Collmer

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