NETWORKING VS. SELLING
A successful network requires the understanding from the get-go that it is about "what I can do for you" as much as it is about "what you can do for me". Building a network requires time and a commitment to helping others. Networking is not just meeting as many people as you can with the intent of presenting a "30-Second Commercial" to them about what you need. Networking requires showing a concern and interest in others that will help build the credibility and trust that is the mainstay of establishing an effective network.
"Drive-by" networking is often perceived as "selling". This is the kind of networking that most people experience. It involves saying hello to many people and passing out business cards, but does not include any follow-up. It is an ineffective means to establish a productive network. (How many of us are turned off by telemarketers or other individuals that sell without expressing an understanding of or interest in our needs?)
Most successful sales situations are relationship-based. A relationship requires time to build, and more importantly, it requires integrity, credibility and trust. To establish trust and credibility, the salesperson (job seeker) needs to ask questions and listen to the answers. They need to show an interest in their audience's needs or concerns. This cannot be accomplished in 30 seconds, nor can it be accomplished without asking some questions.
By identifying their audience's (an individual or the group's) needs, the salesperson (job seeker) can present intelligent solutions or responses. By asking prepared, thoughtful questions that actually produce meaningful results, or by providing helpful connections, the job seeker is more likely to impress the person they are speaking with. When an initial good impression is formed, it can be the beginning of a longer-term relationship.
A relationship must be nurtured. It grows over time. It is the elements of trust and credibility that are built over time that create recall when a situation arises that would cause someone to remember you. Your relationship could potentially lead to your main interest: securing a new position. In the mean time, you have established yourself as a reliable, concerned, problem solver. Is that a bad thing?
- Ask questions and listen to the speaker.
- Identify their concerns or interests.
- Offer solutions or connections.
- Immediately follow-up with them by email or by phone.
- Stay in touch!