Why Business Networking Is The New Sex
‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get’, that’s what we’re told isn’t it? But unless we are talking about something transactional – ie: a purchase, how can we expect to get what we want if we haven’t laid the groundwork first? In this case, by ‘groundwork’ I mean ‘building a relationship’, and this is where the idea that forming a business networking connection draws a lot of comparison with forming a sexual connection: keeping your relationship warm by engaging with another person, instead of demanding what you want, is going to produce much better results. Allow me to explain…
- Oral skills – I am, of course, talking about talking. In any relationship, being able to communicate effectively will open doors for you – both in the business world and romantically. Ever been on a date and the other person has nothing to say for themselves? It’s unlikely that you would want to see that person again, or that they would be memorable to you in the future. You’ll probably find someone different to take out on a date instead, and if your mate asked you how it went, you wouldn’t have a lot favourable to say. This applies heavily when it comes to networking. You want yourself and your business to be remembered, so why not apply the same tactics that you might on a date? Be engaging and show an interest in what the other person has to say, maintain eye contact, ask and answer questions…and leave the other person wanting more of what you have to offer.
- You Have To Give To Receive – Business networking, like sex, is a two-way street – if you are selfish and only think about what YOU want, you’re unlikely to get anything at all! You have the communication skills in place – so now put them to good use and make sure that any connection that is made is mutually beneficial. You can’t really expect someone to help satisfy your (business) needs, if you aren’t willing to do the same for them – and to be honest, even if it’s not possible, you should at least try and give it your all!
- Don’t Let Yourself Go – Having done the business networking rounds, and having a large list of well-used contacts are the business equivalents to being in a long-term relationship – suits and shirts have made way for tea-stained trackies, and everyone stopped shaving a long time ago…sure, you’re still ‘doing the business’, but the spark has gone and to be honest you’d rather sit and watch TV. It’s natural that the excitement of a new business and the thrill of networking and building those contacts will fade with time – but it should be replaced with a sense of confidence rather than apathy; you know what you’re doing now, and you know that you can deliver exactly what the client wants. So keep doing it! Freshen up, brush up on those communication skills and remember why you fell in love with your business in the first place – and enjoy the networking equivalent of a ‘date night’.
- Keep It Fresh And Exciting – Following on from not letting yourself go, it might be that complacency has crept in with your business relationships and it’s time to add something new into the mix to spice it up a bit and keep everyone interested. Your business should always be growing, and you should be constantly improving your techniques and showing exactly what you can do. This could be something as simple as updating your website or implementing a new marketing strategy in order to attract new contacts and pique the interest of the existing ones. Or it could be introducing new products or having something totally new to offer that will make you irresistible, mysterious and intriguing…
- Know When It’s Time To Move On – As with all relationships and connections, there might come a time when it’s just not working, and all the date nights in the world aren’t going to help – the chemistry just isn’t there. Your business and services might not be for everyone, and that’s ok…I’m sure you’ve run into plenty yourself that you have no need of or don’t suit your needs. In these cases it’s best to seek out contacts who do have something you want, and to ensure you do your best to show them that you have something they want too.
- Friends With Benefits – Even if you take moving on into account, it’s always a good idea to remain friends with those ‘ex’s’ and maintain a warm and cordial relationship. Afterall, just because you’re not right for each other at the moment, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be in the future. Your business, and theirs, should always be evolving and growing, and there may come a time when you are exactly who they are looking for. Or, maybe they know someone who will be perfect for you – and vice versa, so always keep those lines of communication open.
And it’s not just face-to-face business networking where we can draw these parallels – social media is often a place of simply ‘transactional’ behaviour. The business equivalent of a dating site – how often do we ‘swipe left’ without engaging on someone’s posts because we don’t want anything from them, only to maybe come back when we decide there’s nothing better out there and that we do? Of course by then it might be too late; they’re already connecting with a business similar to yours who struck up a conversation and engaged instantly rather than waiting until they wanted something from them. And this is largely the trouble with social media as a whole when it comes to business relationships – the only time people engage is when they are selling something…
- It’s Time To Get Up Close And Personal – Like with a dating site, responding quickly on social media with regards to business is essential if you want to ‘get in there first’, and of course being as friendly and personable is possible in both of those situations is going to make you stand out against anyone else they might be talking to. Using first names, showing an interest in them as a person, and staying engaged and friendly during interactions is key in building a relationship.
- Respond To Feedback – No one wants to be in a relationship with someone who is critical…but feedback is very different and as a business it’s important that you respond to any feedback on social media in order to show that you are listening to your customers and that you value your relationship with them. After all, we always want to present our best selves in any relationship situation – first impressions count – so don’t let your business connections be any different.
- Unexpected Gifts – We all know it’s the little surprise gestures that make a difference to a relationship; that surprise bunch of flowers or impromptu gift is always guaranteed to raise a smile, and the same can be said of a business relationship. When you’re building connections on social media you should always look for ways to go that extra mile. Obviously I’m not suggesting you start taking customers out for a candlelit meal, but offering access to exclusive discounts, promotions, or events will make them feel valued and important. And ultimately you will be rewarded.
Basically if you’re only going to put effort into a relationship when you want something you’ll soon find that it will result in you not getting anything at all! Be engaged in your relationships; keep communicating and be responsive to the needs of others, and you’ll find it will lead to much more receptive bedfellows in the future!