You can increase your sales through the power of networking. But, that’s nothing compared to the balance and other benefits that come from the friends you make when you use it properly. It gives you power that you don’t have as an individual. It reduces the feeling of personal alienation or aloneness that can happen when you run a small business. It impacts all areas of the business not just sales. It can make your day-to-day business goals more attainable.
Networking Relationships Require Effort
Small business owners are relying on networking to grow, but forget that success depends on the work you put in finding and creating relationships with people you like and trust. It requires mutual effort and support.
Sometimes it can seem that it’s just too much trouble with too little return. People give up on it. They just follow what sales books say about consultative or solution selling, canvassing, or becoming part of a tribe. There’s nothing wrong with these but they’re just about making the sale. I also think there’s a process to networking. My problem is that these suggest something you can do using skills and your mind but not your heart. There’s something important missing if you do that.
If you just look at the word “networking”, you can see what it takes to be successful. Your “net” of relationships helps you keep things in and protected and keep unwanted things out. It also warns you and provides insight and information you can’t get anywhere else. And anyone in small business knows what “work” is — time, effort, and usually money.
How Friends Fit in to Your Three Networks
When you are in business you develop three levels of networks: personal networks, business networks, and association networks. You will be closest to your personal networks. The people you do business with are the second level. Your interests, values, and lifestyle give you an opportunity to find additional relationships in the associations you participate in — religious, political, sports, etc. You will find network friends in all kinds of places and all the time if you are receptive. Be open to them and introduce them to your existing networks.
Network friends bring other benefits. They give balance to your life. They provide perspective. They care about you when things are good and when they’re bad. Your parents may have taught you not to say anything if you don't have something nice to say. When times are tough, it is easier to cut yourself off. But that is a big mistake.
These special personal, business and association friends can keep you from falling into holes and staying there. Trust them and give them a chance to help you. Misery may love company; friends love other friends. They know that at some time they may be on the receiving end of the balance and support you have to give.
Bottom line: they must be people you like and truly trust. These are your real network friends. Spend extra time to develop and nurture the right relationship with each one.
Keeping Your Networking Friends
Do the work and reap the advantage of your relationships.
- Take advantage in a good way of the friends you make.
- Keep them close and keep track of their needs as well.
- Use them as sounding boards and be their advisors.
Want to learn more?
Please see The Networker’s Guide to Success (ebook)