Networking is good questions, listening, and helping others. Some rules of thumb for networking from Ford Harding’s Rainmaking (pages 44-59):
- Networking is helping people.
- You must learn to recognize a lead for someone else when you hear it.
- Networking is a sincere effort rather than keeping score.
- Networking is a sense of urgency and obligation.
- Networking is showing gratitude.
- Networking is maintaining trust.
- Networking requires you to spend some of your time selling other firm’s products and services.
- You must selective in who you partner with as these are a serious investment of time.
- Motivation is critical ingredient in effective networking.
I like this list and refer to it periodically. A couple of quick thoughts on ways that I try and apply it:
- Helping people: often the right question or the right introduction is much more valuable than advice.
- Recognizing a lead and selling other firm’s products and services: often gives me better perspective on my own offerings. I also have to listen more actively and ask the right questions to be prepared to do either for another person.
- Showing gratitude: e-mail is good, a phone call is better, a handwritten note says a lot. I have tried hard to cultivate an attitude of “counting my blessings” in the last five years or so; I write more testimonials, offer more referrals, and write more notes than I used to.
- Maintaining trust: is intrinsic to success in business. It includes not wasting people’s time, remaining mindful that your own failures not only reflect poorly on you but whoever recommended or introduced you, taking care when making commitments and taking pains to meet them.
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