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Trust-based Networking and the Paradox of “Collateral Benefit”

A (seemingly) simple question: What is the goal of business networking?

  • The goal of most business networking is to make new connections in order to get more business. 
  • The goal of trust-based networking is to help others develop their businesses.  The “collateral benefit” of trust-based networking is that others then help you.

When it comes to networking, injecting trust into the picture creates a sort of paradox. It’s exactly the same paradox that arises when we think about injecting trust into selling, or advice-giving, or getting people to review your books. 

That paradox was expressed well by Dale Carnegie, Zig Ziglar, and a host of others: basically, the best way to get what you want is to help others get what they want. 

It’s easy to forget how radical that proposition is; and how infrequently people actually do it. 

(This topic will be explored in much greater depth in our next free Trust Matters Webinar: Network Like a Trusted Advisor: Take the Work (and Stress) Out of  It on January 29th at 11AM EST)

(Meanwhile, you might want to check out our eBook The Do’s and Don’ts of Trust-based Networking)

 Current Networking Practice

Ask yourself: when you go to a meet-up, start looking through LinkedIn, or scan a rough lead list –  how do you proceed? Here’s what usually happens:

  • You search and scan in advance for those you’ve profiled as most likely to be prospects – focusing and prioritizing to narrow down a wide list of leads
  • You focus on honing your elevator pitch
  • During interaction, you focus on finding pain points (waiting to offer solutions at a later time).

If that roughly resembles what you do, then please take note: all three of those benign-sounding activities share one trait – they’re all about you. They are not activities that put Dale Carnegie’s insight into practice. 

Trust-based Networking

What if you were to try something entirely different? For example:

  • You search and scan for pairs of people both of whom you know, but who don’t know each other – and who could each benefit from the introduction
  • You focus not on your elevator pitch, but on a really great question you’d like to know the answer to (better yet, ask the question in the form of a Risky Gift)
  • You focus not on pain points, but on being genuinely curious and seeking perspectives. 

Those are very different activities: they’re not self-focused, they’re other-focused. And, they are more likely to result in relationships and in interesting conversations. It is those relationships and conversations that result in true connections of interest – and before very long, in leads and business development conversations.

The “collateral benefit” of behaving this way is – leads and sales. In fact, more leads and more sales than if you go in with the usual self-centered approach of trying to get leads and sales directly. 

But the paradox must be respected: if you engage in these other-focused activities as mere fig-leaf cover for your true goal of getting more sales – it won’t work. We all see through such base motives. You actually have to commit to the alternative goal – that of helping others.  

A good test of whether you’re really committed is your choice of metrics: do you measure the result of networking by how many entries you generate for your CRM system? Or instead – by tracking how you’ve been able to benefit your new acquaintances. (Hint: what would Dale say?)

 

Learn much more about this strategy at our next Trust Matters webinar: Network Like a Trusted Advisor: Take the Work (and Stress) Out of It, January 29th (11AM EST) delivered by my partner and co-author of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook, Andrea Howe, together with Stewart Hirsch, our head of business development and leadership coaching (and CEO of his firm Strategic Relationships). Sign up for the (free) webinar here.

The #1 Top Single Best Way to Get a Meeting

iPhotoA free bit of advice to anyone seeking to improve their networking skills, or looking for a true best practice in getting a meeting with someone.

And here it is:

Comment on a blogpost or article that person has written.

Simple. You already intuitively get how that can be powerful, but let’s break it down.

Note: It only works if you’re careful about a couple of items.

First, your comment HAS TO BE SPECIFIC. It has to say something relevant, intelligent and useful about the person’s blogpost or article.

That means you have to know something about who you’re trying to contact. It also means you have to give some thought to what you’re saying.

It also means you probably have to know something about what the person is writing about. Mere fawning and saying ‘great blogpost’ will get you nowhere.  In fact, it will just identify you as a cheap SEO-seeking spammer. 

But – if you actually ARE intentional about whom you’re seeking to connect with, if you actually DO know something about the subject in question, and if your question actually IS intelligent and thoughtful – then you will get a powerful response back.

Why? Because we all love being noticed – and because being noticed and appreciated is something in very short supply. If you doubt the power of this, just ask yourself: 

  • how do you feel when you put yourself out there on the webs – and no one responds?
  • how do you feel when you put yourself out there on the webs – and you get a meaningful, thoughtful, inquisitive response back?

Everyone’s writing blogposts hoping to get noticed; very few people (Chris Brogan is a marvelous exception) put as much effort into noticing and commenting on others as they do into writing in the first place.

Want to connect? Start by commenting on others. For real.