I had an interesting meeting with a prospective member of one of my networking groups today. He's a very savvy, well trained, sales executive. He attended and observed an actual meeting in progress. He was impressed with the focus and free exchange that he saw the members engage in. He told me that he hadn't really ever networked in a structured group and was unsure about the position he should be assuming as a new member of an existing group. Somehow he recognized that coming from a sales angle, which is how he was most comfortable, just didn't seem appropriate.
It occurred to me that so many people have the wrong impression about networking and it's protocols. My last article spoke about the challenges networking addresses and why it's the most important business development tool. That's a no-brainer today. There are proliferations of networking groups and universities are actually making the subject part of their curriculums.
As Malcom Gladwell points out in his best seller," The Tipping Point ", networking is, in fact a social epidemic. However, there are nuances that can make a great attempt at the sport a failure.
Rich Isaac, my good friend at the Legend Development Services, a Sandler Sales Institute franchisee, talks at length about rapport building. In fact, it's the one aspect of the program that is a constant component. Nurture, nurture, rapport, rapport, rapport... you must have a good foundation with the people you are networking with before you can expect anything! Sometimes you will be lucky and the "instant rapport fairy" will appear and shine on you, but more often than not, you must take the time to develop a level of trust and have a willingness to help people out before you ask them for anything.
Take an honest interest in other people. Help them get what they want. You will get your turn later. One member says that she has a natural instinct to help people and she actually forgets to ask for what she needs. I asked her to go collect her favors! Protocol questions? Ask me.