Cultivating relationships is at the heart and soul of everything we do, in business and in life; in business we refer to it as networking. But essentially, networking is simply about the exchange of information in order to build relationships. We all grapple with stumbling blocks in our business, and networking can be one of them for many of us. Especially when we invest our time and money on different business development activities, and we don’t see the results we expect. There are a “hundred and one” business building tools and techniques. Some work better than others, but most, if not all, forget the fundamentals. Before a market will buy from you they must know you, like you and trust you.
Networking is one technique that allows you to gain visibility in the watering holes that your niche market hangs out, so that people can get to know you, and you can get to know others. Cultivating a relationship is about building rapport and connection with another person; it needs to go both ways in order to be successful.
Networking is a skill to be refined and mastered, so that you can reap the reward of your efforts over time. Here are some tips for masterful networking:
1. Listen more. Talk Less. Take a genuine interest in others. Be inquisitive and ask questions that enable you to really get to know the person you are talking to. Be interested, not interesting.
2. Give first. Share always. Look for ways to help and support others. Be the giver, not the taker. Your actions speak louder than words. Always show up with a giving mind-set.
3. Be you. Speak from the heart. Let your guard down and be your authentic self. Speak from the heart about why you are so passionate about the work that you do, and you will attract people who resonate with you and your message.
4. Know your why. Be clear. Be clear about what you do, why it matters and why people should care. The better you are at articulating your message with clarity, the easier it will be to connect with the right people.
5. Check your attitude. Be open. Don’t be judgmental. Remove all expectations and approach people with an open heart, an open mind and to the infinite possibilities that your encounter awaits.
Building a business is a marathon, not a sprint. Make a commitment to purposefully build your business by mastering the art of cultivating relationships, one day at a time.