There is no doubt that networking can be incredibly valuable to business growth in almost every industry. But networking takes both time and financial investments and therefore it's up to us to make sure that we are getting the value back of what we invest in this area.
The two vital ingredients to efficient networking are as follows:
1. Integrity. Integrity leads to trust and trust is necessary to inspire clients (and staff) to follow our lead. To have integrity – we just need to do what we say we are going to do.
It’s that simple.
Too often we assume that integrity comes from our values and we judge each other on our value systems. This is understandable but as we all have different value sets it’s largely an inaccurate and subjective system on which to judge the performance of others.
From my own experiences of networking I am always astonished at how many business owners go to all the trouble of making contacts, fail to do what they say they are going to do and then wonder why their networking efforts come to very little.
Of course, life happens and we sometimes make mistakes but it will be the things we did to let our clients down that were not mistakes, which will do our businesses the most damage. We consistently display integrity when we are genuinely more concerned about our client’s well being through the business transaction than our own. And I don’t mean that we should undervalue ourselves to get business. In fact, the opposite is true.
When we display integrity price often becomes a lesser issue as our value to our client shines through our actions more easily. Which brings me to the second ingredient needed for efficient networking, which is ....
2. Relevance. There are two aspects to the term relevance that we can learn.
The first aspect is to understand our relevance to our clients and the second is to understand and communicate our relevance to our clients.
Having been actively involved in business expansion and training sales teams for so many years there is one thing of which I am absolutely sure. And that is that our clients are not interested in who we are and what we do…nearly as much… as they are interested in what we can do for them.
How proficient we can become in understanding and communicating our relevance to our clients will therefore determine the value of the returns we will get from our networking investments.
Remember that there is exponential value in networking if we do it effectively as our networking contacts will be able to fully understand and communicate our relevance to their contacts too. And they will refer us on with gusto, due to our integrity.
There is no either/or equation possible for effective networking – we need to literally ooze both integrity and relevance.