Business network is a powerful tool. Doing it effectively and often will guarantee the success of your business. Not doing it, or doing it poorly, is time-consuming and difficult to maintain emotionally.
I have always said that networking is a lifestyle choice and an essential ingredient in any businesses marketing process. It is a way to generate connections that can be nurtured into meaningful relationships.
People are often concerned that they need to separate their business networking activities from their social activities. Turning the switch ‘Off’, if you will.
The question I have is, “Can you turn it off or should you keep it on?”
Let’s clear something up first.
What do we actually mean by ‘networking’.
Networking is the process of building meaningful relationships. Relationships where you allow others to get to know you, like you and trust you, and you get to know, like and trust them. It’s not about pitching or selling to someone every time you see them, in fact, if you were always in someone’s face with your product or service, you will never build a ‘meaningful’ relationship.
So, networking is something that ought to be kept ‘On’ at all times.
No matter whether you’re at a business networking event or a social event, you are going to meet people. You’re going to talk about yourself, what you do, how you feel, and you’re also going to ask the same of them. You are both making a connection. Whether it will become a meaningful relationship, will be totally up to the both of you, whether the connection was made socially or not.
I think the real concern is whether we behave appropriately or not. At a business function it is appropriate to go around and meet people with the express purpose of making a connection and giving our elevator speech to generate interest. At a social function, we are there to enjoy ourselves and not, ‘tout for business’, however, we will still chat to people and make connections.
Let me give you an example.
Recently I was at a social event and had the opportunity to meet a number of different and new people. One particular lady chatted to me briefly, and we spoke about what we did for a living and how we came to be at that particular function. After a short while, I was called away to meet someone else and I didn’t get the opportunity to talk with her again… almost.
As the evening event was concluding, she came up to me and asked for my business card, because she felt that we could do business with each other and wanted to stay in contact.
We have since met a few times and are on the way to consolidating a mutually beneficial arrangement that will compliment and add value to both our businesses.
Neither of us attended the social event, thinking that we were going to meet someone who we would be doing business with. We went there to meet people, have a drink and meal, have fun, and then go home.
So you see, if you become a successful networker, you can network anywhere and still stay appropriate to the event.
Keep it ‘On’ or turn it ‘Off’… my vote is to keep it ‘On’. You never know where and when you are going to meet the next most important person for your business.
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