Monday, October 12, 2009

It takes more than a handshake to build a network

In his weekly Media Coach Radio Show last week, Alan Stevens interviewed US networking expert Thom Singer.

Thom's key advice resonated with my beliefs that simply shaking hands or exchanging cards at an event does not mean you are building a strong network.

Thom told Alan, "The biggest mistake people make when they're at an event like this and they meet people, is to think, 'Wow! Alan's now part of my network, we're buddies. We're going to refer business.'

"They go back and Link In to you and connect to you on Twitter and they think 'Wow! You're my friend'. The truth is when you meet someone one time, they're not part of your network They're someone you've met one time.

"The trick is you have to own the follow-up; to grow the relationship along to the point where you are actually business friends, or real friends."

How many times have you met people at events and instantly expected business, or referrals, to be exchanged? Or felt that they expect this from you? And how often has that actually happened?

Thom is right, simply meeting at an event and connecting online is not sufficient to establish a strong, long-lasting and productive relationship. It is so important to develop that initial contact into a conversation and use social networks or personal meetings to stay in touch and build understanding, rapport and trust.

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