One of the secrets of being successful in business is getting out there, meeting people and making those all-important contacts. The reality is that people will often prefer to deal with someone who they know, trust and have a relationship with rather than a complete stranger. Of course, it helps if you are good at what you do, but a large part of winning new work and new clients is about putting yourself out there and actually talking to people.
When someone feels comfortable with you and is confident that you will provide them with a good service, they are more likely to recommend you to their clients and contacts. That has always been the way the world works and I can see no reason why that will ever change.
The advent of social media and online communities has meant that there are now even more opportunities to generate contacts without even having to step outside of your home or office. Online networking is certainly creating time efficient opportunities that can also lead to strong business relationships. In fact, I have formed many valuable business connections online that have gone on to develop into mutually beneficial relationships.
I am often given online endorsements by people who have read my book, attended my training courses or have benefited from my mentoring and I am always very pleased and grateful that someone has taken the time to write a recommendation.
When this happens, I am of course very pleased to reciprocate and endorse people for their skills and abilities however I have noticed an increase in the number of people asking for totally random endorsements when I have never even met them or benefited from their services!
In my opinion this totally discredits the individual and devalues online recommendations and reviews. There is a saying, "if you don't ask, you don't get" but I prefer "give before you get".
I'm all for being ballsy and asking for what you want but let's not lose sight of good manners.
Social media makes it very easy to ask - please retweet, like my facebook page, endorse me or write a recommendation for me on LinkedIn.
If we adopt the 'give before you get' philosophy before asking something of others, you would see exactly how you can help them and their business. Do you retweet them? Have you liked their facebook page or written a recommendation for them on LinkedIn first? If not, then before you plunge into the world of online networking, please be aware that there is an etiquette to asking.
For me it is a huge turn-off when you take the time out from a busy working day to go to a live networking event only to be stuck with someone who is just talking at you or even worse, trying to give you an on the spot demo on their ipad without even knowing if their product or service is useful to you in any way.
In fact there is something quite rude about going to a social event and then launching into a full on sales pitch. Like most things in life you can't just expect to get something out of a situation without putting in any effort.
I really do get fed up of people asking me for something without taking the time to invest in building a relationship or offering anything in return, as far as I am concerned that is just bad manners.
Making contacts and building a bond of trust in any walk of life has to be a mutual process. After all what is the point of getting involved in any kind of relationship where only one person is going to benefit?
Whether you're attending a live networking event or building your online contacts, I believe you should make an investment before trying to make a withdraw. Instead of thinking how can this person benefit me and what can I get from them, ask yourself what can I do for them?
The rule of reciprocation has a way of rewarding those who give before they get.
Follow Bev James on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Bev_James