Power networking. I’ve talked about the value of professional relationships and my belief in actively creating them. Now I want to offer some specific advice about how to go about doing so.
Every day, I set aside some time to research my colleagues and my competition. More often than not, they’re the same thing. I surf around the Internet, examine their websites, and try to understand their business. What’s their motivation? When it’s quiet in the mornings around the office, I make phone calls to these companies or individuals with the intention of making a friend.
I don’t send an e-mail as an introduction. I want to make a personal connection, and I really believe that can only be done over the phone or in person. To build a relationship, you need to spend several minutes getting to know the other person. The conversation need not be long, but you cannot rush the process. If the conversation is long? Great. Be sincere, and ask them about THEM. People love to talk about themselves, and getting them to open up isn’t difficult, but it is key.
It’s important to be sincere. I never look at a friendship as a way to get something. I do not try to sell anything – I’m just making an introduction, like I would at a party. I never establish short-term goals for a relationship or wonder what they can do for me. What can I do for them? If you reach out, open up the possibility of working together in the future, then you’ve greatly helped yourself already. Maybe you can cross promote one another. Maybe they know a friend who would make a great contact for you. You really can never know until you put yourself out there.
Make time each week, and even better, each day. Relationships don’t simply emerge – you can make them happen. The benefits you will reap will be beyond what you can possibly imagine or hope for.
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