Be a Value Creator

You have people who mistakenly come into a group who think that the concept of networking is that you go into a group and say, "Hey, open up your Rolodex and show it to me, and I will pick who I want out of there in order to get new business." I call that the popcorn mentality—the idea that it's going to happen fast and be a simple two-step process. You join and BAM! You have a new list of leads to call.

That’s the opposite of networking, which is very much the art of developing relationships. The old adage that anything worth working for takes time and commitment is true. Once people trust you, they will open up their heart and introduce you to the people they know who can help you. It has been said that networking is more like the law of the farm. You have to plant your seed, nurture it, and wait for the harvest.

Seasoned and skillful networkers understand this. They know that if they show up in a sell-only mode, they will alienate themselves from the rest of the group. It is counterproductive. I often see guests and novice networkers who just want to come to the group and sell. They might as well have a scarlet letter on their chest because in short order, the real networkers in the group will avoid them like the plague. In networking meetings, these types earn a reputation. Members see them coming and quickly find someone else to engage with.

If you have a sales-first mentality, you are forgetting the first premise of networking. Not only are you going to offend a lot of people, you’re never going to have the opportunity to cross the initial barrier of trust and gain access to referrals. If people don’t feel important to you beyond the sale, they certainly aren’t going to send people they love and respect your way to get the same treatment. You really have to be cognizant of the fact that you’re going to a networking environment first and foremost to build relationships.

Making the Change

At NIA®, we welcome the seasoned networkers as well as those who are excited to learn a better way.

For many people, this value-driven mentality can't be taught. This is why we have such a rigorous screening procedure in our application process. However, for others, it’s a matter of shifting a few core attitudes, which opens up your entire world.

I, along with so many other business owners, have been grateful to realize the truth—that not only you can be successful in business by sincerely and authentically treating people as you wish to be treated, but, even more important, it is the only way networking truly works!

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