Every relationship requires work and your networking relationships are no different.
A common thread can be seen with those individuals and companies who achieve the most success with their networking groups and colleagues; the strength of their relationships. They invest time and effort in creating and maintaining effective working relationships with those around them and use those relationships to strengthen their network. The strength of your business relationships has a direct bearing on the level of success you can achieve in your networking. Here are a few tips for keeping your relationships healthy:
Be proactive. The best relationships are worked at over time. Dedicating time to improving your business relationships will make them stronger. One-to-one meetings are a great way of getting to know other members of your networking group and understanding their business. Make time to proactively look for referrals and book in your one-to-one meetings on a regular basis.
Develop your network relationships. Developing relationships with your clients and business associates can put you in a great position to refer. Become a source of knowledge to your clients; a ‘go-to’ guy or girl for advice and trusted contacts. If you become known as someone who has a high quality network and enjoy a good relationship then your clients are bound to consult you at some point and give you the opportunity to make referrals.
Be patient. Patience is vitally important to any relationship. Understand that some things take time and don’t look for that quick sell. Things don’t always happen over night and good relationships breed long-term opportunities. If you’re looking for good value referrals then you need to be patient. Many members of BNI will tell you that it took several months for them to get that first referral, but once it came it was followed by many others.
Communication. Give your fellow members the right information and let them know what you are doing in your business. The more accurate you are with your information, the more likely you are to get the type of referrals you are looking for. Keep things fresh and nourish the relationships with your fellow members. If things are changing in your business then keep people up to date with your products and services and the kind of business you are looking for.
Be responsible. Don’t damage the relationships of your fellow members. When they refer you to one of their contacts they are investing their trust in you and vouching for you. Don’t let them down by being late for appointments or not following up properly. This will reflect badly on your networking colleague and damage the rapport you have with them, which may make them less likely to refer to you in the future. Make the most of the opportunity and you can start developing your own relationship with their contact and getting repeat business.
Good relationships are built on trust, communication and understanding. Your business relationships are no different.