My overriding philosophy for business networking is something I call the “Circle of Trust.” It’s why networking works.
Here’s how it works:
The Circle of Trust
Well, there’s you. And there’s someone you want to meet.
Now there are a bunch of ways you can connect with them. A bunch of ways you can follow up. For example: phone calls, meetings over coffee, emails, articles, referrals, questions, advice, …
Just one problem – it doesn’t scale.
If you’re trying to connect with a lot of people then you have to connect with them all the time, which is really overwhelming. Because you’re starting every day from scratch trying to develop trust with all these people and it’s hard to keep track. That’s why they created CRM systems, by the way. But CRM’s don’t solve this problem. They just generate an impossibly long list of to-do’s that you’ll avoid because it’s a huge list of people who are trying to avoid you.
If that sounds a lot like cold call selling, well, it kind of is. And it’s the biggest mistake people make while business networking. They think they’re looking for prospects.
So let’s look at a way business networking works.
And there’s someone you enjoy talking to.
That’s key. You develop trust over multiple conversations across multiple interactions, so it works better when you enjoy talking to them.
Then you can connect with them in a bunch of different ways, and get to know them and trust them while they get to know you and trust you… and then you get access to the people that they know and trust.
Which means that even though they may never be your client, they know people who will be your clients.
And when someone you trust introduces you to someone they trust – BAM! You trust them.
It’s a much easier sale when you’re introduce through someone you mutually trust.
So instead of looking for prospects, look for people you enjoy talking to. Then get to know them.
That’s how business networking works.