Networking is a great buzzword. Done right it can produce powerful, synergistic relationships that bring out the best in both parties and multiply results.
Done wrong, networking can come across as selfish and sleazy. Face it, no one woke up this morning wanting to become a “contact,” but most people would like to forge a mutually-beneficial partnership.
One of the key differences between a successful influencer and everyone else is that they don’t go out looking for clients, they go looking for partnerships.
Going out to a networking event looking for a client is like trying to get to China on foot. If you want to go to China, you don’t want to go one step at a time. You want to figure out who already flies there in a jet.
Influencers only network to find leverage. They look for people who already have a big database of clients, a channel of distribution, a great brand, money to invest, an awesome product, or some other key aspect of value or leverage.
I often get frustrated when people come up to me at a networking function and try to get me to become a client. However, I almost always like it when someone is thinking about a mutually-beneficial partnership.
Forget looking for clients and start looking for relationships that can benefit both by asking:
- Do they have a list of potential clients?
- Are they interested in co-producing a product?
- Have they got a product that would be attractive to your contact list?
- Would this person be a valuable addition to the team?
- Is there a beneficial contact you know that you can put them in touch with?
These are all powerful questions that yield better results than, “Can I make a sale right here and now?”
Great partnerships mean great money. Whenever you want to take your income up to a higher level, look for a higher level partnership. A radical idea becomes fairly plausible when you have the right partners.
If someone says they want to attract 100,000 customers, you’d probably have some doubts. If they then explain that they have partnerships with major media companies, celebrities, retail outlets, and investors, you might start to think, “Only 100,000? Why so few?”
Bottom line: not much happens when you work in isolation; however, with the right partners, anything is possible.
How to Really Connect with a Potential Partner
It can be nerve racking sitting down with someone who has the power to double your quarterly sales with a single email. So you want to make sure you get a few things right so that the deal goes ahead and the relationship is long lasting.
If you want to hit it off and forge a strong partnership start here:
1. Set the Scene
Meet people in a nice restaurant, hotel, club, or lounge. In most cases it’s best not to meet people in your office or theirs because the spirit of a partnership should be about meeting on common ground. You want to create a win/win/win deal (you win, I win, and the customer wins). It can create the wrong starting point if one person has to make the trip to the other person’s office.
I also like meeting in nice locations because a joint venture or partnership should be about creating wealth and abundance for everyone involved.
2. Bring a Gift
“Giving is the master key to success, in all applications of human life.” —Bryant McGill
When you meet with a potential partner, you might like to bring a thoughtful gift to show that you are thinking of their needs. It could be a copy of a book that you think they’d like. It could be something simple like a magazine article clipping you think they might be interested in.
The point is not to demonstrate that you’re spending a lot of money on them; it’s to demonstrate that you are already thinking about their interests.
3. Make Friends First
“If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.” —Zig Ziglar
A deal will not normally happen if you don’t like each other, even if the deal is perfect in every other way. Conversely, if you do like each other you will find it easy to make a deal work.
I normally talk about anything other than business until I am sure I like the person I’m talking to. You will genuinely want to do business with people you like and share common ground with. If there’s no “click-factor” I normally won’t make a deal even if everything else seems good.
4. Do Business Last
When you have built rapport and it seems entirely appropriate to bring up business, it should only take twenty to thirty minutes to make a deal work.
Much longer than that and it might not be a good deal to be doing. Always go into a meeting with a fair deal in mind and know in advance what you are flexible on and where you can’t budge.
5. Pick up the Bill
I am personally a fan of genuinely offering to pick up the bill; especially if I instigated the meeting. For me it shows that I valued the meeting with them.
Of course, if they insist on splitting the bill, I am okay with it, because it shows we are both thinking fifty-fifty even on small things.
6. Follow Through
“Many people don’t focus enough on execution. If you make a commitment to get something done, you need to follow through on that commitment.” —Kenneth Chenault
After a meeting, schedule fifteen minutes to follow through on anything you mentioned you would do. Sometime in the course of conversation you might say that you will email through a website address, a name of a book, or connect two people on email.
Very few people actually follow through on these off-hand remarks, so it will get noticed when you do. It sends a powerful message that what you say and what you do are the same thing.
7. Expect Magic
“Life’s too short to hang out with people who aren’t resourceful.” —Jeff Bezos
The most rewarding part of building a business with the spirit of partnership in everything you do is the unexpected rewards that show up. You know you’ve built solid partnerships when you’re constantly surprised by how things turn out better than you expected.
Great partnerships have allowed me to make progress in ways I would have never imagined. As a result of partnerships, I’ve seen my businesses go global, I’ve received investment at the valuation I wanted, I have earned a high income, I’ve been given shares in growth companies, I have had a lot of fun, been invited on unique trips away and met my entrepreneurial heroes.
None of these things would have happened if I hadn’t built strong relationships that turned into strong partnerships.
What three calls could you make (regardless of how scary) that could really get your ideas off the ground?
Don’t wait, go for it!
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