By Mindy Wolfle
January 11-17, 2018
Yes, you heard me right. In 2018, I’ve eliminated the word “networking” from my vocabulary. Networking, as I characterize it, is effective only when it is defined as “relationship building.” Relationship building is NOT:
• Giving out and collecting business cards with abandon.
• Attending every possible event, hoping to meet the most people.
• Pitching your service or product.
• Email blasting to the point of spamming.
• Trading quantity for quality.
• Waiting for referrals to come to you.
2018 would have marked my 25th year of networking. What I am marking, instead, is relationship building. What does it take to be an effective relationship builder?
• Time commitment.
• Continuous effort.
• Being discriminating.
• Establishing yourself as a connection maker.
• Creating trust among your contacts.
• Giving without expecting the quid quo pro of receiving.
Whether you call it networking or you redefine it as I have, relationship building requires us to step outside our comfort zone.
• Does it seem like too much effort to travel to meet for coffee? Can you see that reason as putting up a stumbling block to your success?
• In today’s digital world, where so much communication is remote, engage in one-on-one conversations with someone (anyone) at gatherings to learn more about his or her business, interests, goals and what you can do for each other. Get to know people on a more personal level.
• Ask for what you want. No one is a mind reader and cannot attempt to fulfill your desires without knowing what they are.
• Research and follow through. You mean I have to explore the organizations and people with whom I might have an affinity? Yes, that’s what I mean.
• Stop dragging your feet. Winter is too cold. Springtime is your busy season. Summer is too hot. Autumn is putting your nose back to the grindstone. Relationship building knows no seasonal restrictions.
• Create an event. You don’t need to do more than invite a cross-section of colleagues, friends and contacts to meet for breakfast. Make it a regularly occurring event and see what develops.
To quote Michelle Tillis Lederman in 11 Laws of Likability, “Whether they stem from business or personal situations, our relationships are what support us, connect us, and allow us to progress in all aspects of our lives. People do business with people they like.”
Mindy Wolfle is the president of Neptune Marketing LLC and chief marketing officer of Vishnick McGovern Milizio LLP. She is a board member of the Social Media Association and a member of Women Economic Developers of Long Island and Public Relations Professionals of Long Island. Her LinkedIn profile describes her as a marketing/public relations/social media executive, writer, editor, educator, connection maker, semiotician and do-gooder.