DJA recently attended a networking meeting to learn more on business networking and how to connect with people. The guest speaker was Dr. William M. Saleebey, Ph.D., an expert on the psychological dimensions of personal and business networking.
Dr. Saleebey started out by discussing some of the varying reasons for networking: finding work, developing new business leads, obtaining business referrals, or learning about experts in other fields.
He told us that no matter what your main reasons for attending meetings, you may be pleasantly surprised to discover that networking not only provides the give and take of business referrals, but can also lead to the development of new friendships.
But whether business or personal, these relationships take time and nurturing. Therefore, Dr. Saleebey recommends that instead of going to networking events for yourself, do it for others by paying it forward:
- See how you can help others.
- Build relationships.
- Get to know people, especially if you see them more than once at various events.
True networking happens over a long period of time, as you get to know someone better. If your conversations are 100% business, then you’re not allowing a personal relationship to develop.
Learning about what a person does and who they are is what builds the relationship.
The deeper the relationship, the more likely business networking will follow. Here are some other valuable suggestions from Dr. Saleebey for developing your relationships:
Prove Yourself. Start out knowing no one and become known by others. As you build those relationships, you prove that you belong.
It’s What You Do Afterwards. Follow-up ranks very high on the importance scale. Reach out to others following an event. Have a deeper conversation. Spend the time. Learn. Share.
Don’t Judge by Someone’s Age. Movers and shakers come from all age groups. Make sure you are open to making connections with people of all ages.
Cross-Network. Go to multiple group gatherings. Discuss other groups. It helps deepen relationships and establish friendships.
Obtain Testimonials. Get someone else that knows you, to speak to others about you, and/or your business in a positive light.
Personal Introductions/Referrals. These are quite valuable, but you should only request them if you’ve already first established a solid relationship with the referrer. They need to know who you are, like you, and trust you – before they will refer you to others.
We found Dr. Saleebey’s approach to networking very refreshing and rewarding as the pay-it-forward aspect adds value to an exercise that can be perceived as one-sided. If you would like to know more about his work, get his book called Connecting: Beyond the Name Tag.