A Good Relationship Is Something To Talk About

April 4, 2008

I belong to this really cool networking group (The Entrepreneur Circle) that has monthly round table meetings where small groups of members get together to listen to one another’s challenges and discuss ways to deal with them. So I’m sitting in one of these meetings today and the topic of networking,referrals and how do you know if you’re about to cross the line comes up.

Many business people have been in the situation. You’re in one of those “networking” events and you know that networking is a great way to promote your business and your brand. But what is appropriate when it comes to getting a lead, referral or a business deal?

For most of us, it’s going to require a change in mindset and behavior when it comes to how we go about networking. Our entrepreneurial instincts tell us to get the deal done and move on to the next person in the room. This transactional mindset is very “me” oriented. Get the person to give up whatever it is you are trying to get them to (a contact, a lead, a job etc.). You’re just completing a transaction. In a transaction, there is no need for relationship because it is not intended to last. Two parties come together for mutual gain. Over and done with.

The alternative to the transactional mindset is one in which the focus is on building a relationship. A relationship mindset is more “we” oriented than “me” oriented. In building a relationship you know that “you have to give to get” as my business coach and mentor Andrew Morrison says. Because of the time value difference with a relationship we are under less pressure to close the deal right now.

Small business takeaway: Use networking to manage relationships. That means, starting, cultivating and enhancing your relationships with your colleagues and even more so with your customers. Companies that have strong relationships with their customers will probably have customers who are advocates. They will be less likely to leave you and may be willing to pay a premium because they value the relationship. Now that’s something to talk about.


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