Business is built on relationships.
Lazy, random, transactional exchanges are not relationships.
Instead, relationships take an investment of interest, understanding, compassion, generosity, and time.
This is what builds trust.
This is what transforms insincere, brief encounters into meaningful, mutually beneficial, lasting friendships both personally and professionally. Friendships where you support each other when facing challenges, inspire each other to improve and reach goals, and refer new opportunities that can have a massive impact on your business.
But without those essential components – interest, understanding, compassion, generosity, time – relationships don’t exist.
The interaction becomes one-sided.
Which is contrary to the very point of a relationship.
So how do we build networking connections into viable standout relationships?
- Turn initial small talk into impactful exchanges. The best way to accomplish this is to genuinely be interested in the other person. Both personally and professionally. As humans, we have a life beyond our work. Asking questions and getting to know the other person is a great way to find common ground and a reason to take the relationship further.
- Have an intention for each conference, event, or meeting you attend. This can be as simple as I want to meet and engage with 5 new people, exchange ideas, develop rapport, and identify real-world connections that can last.
- Transform casual online contacts into meaningful connections. Getting beneath the surface with people is a great way to show you care without having an ulterior motive. Once you understand what’s important to them, what’s top of mind, or what’s challenging, you can curate meaningful follow-up. This can include sharing articles or resources that you believe would support them. Going the extra mile is not a crowded space. It counts in creating connections worthy of each others’ time.
- Create a schedule for staying in touch with your network. Time truly does fly. Without a concerted focus and clear intentions about keeping communication going, the connections you have invested time, effort, and energy into building can go by the wayside. What could have developed into a consequential relationship or potential collaboration easily becomes neglected and soon forgotten.
- Become a superconnector and create your own events or opportunities to bring your community together. Community is currency in our current world. Bringing amazing people together for a common purpose can be an extraordinary way to add value to others’ lives and truly make an even bigger difference in the world with the power of the collective.
- Unlock the power of social media as a networking tool. You have free media in your pocket. Use it to connect, engage, and build relationships in a value-added, meaningful and distinct way…a way unique to you.
- Be a leader and repair & strengthen troubled relationships. We all make mistakes and holding grudges never serves. Making the effort to transform troubled relationships can bring goodwill, faith, and trust in who you are and what you stand for. At the very least, you’ll sleep better at night. And who knows, it may lead to your next significant opportunity.
As a final thought, be aware if you’re the person who’s reaching out just to get something from someone.
And don’t be that person. It’s not a winning business strategy.
Give first. Seek to understand. And see where the true, non-transactional exchange takes you.