As business people we should be continually finding others with whom we network and attempt to develop as networking partners. These people may be prospects, customers, or clients, but they should always be developed as partners if possible. Most people say that everyone that they meet is a prospect, but that is not true. However, everyone should be approached as a networking partner even if they never become a customer.
When we go networking we should get to know the people that we meet by sitting down with them and getting to know them. We must not attempt to sell them whatever product or service that we have to offer. We must inquire as to whatever they need or are seeking for their business or for themselves. When we assist them in finding what they want, even if it is not what we offer, we build partnerships for the long haul.
If we don’t have what the other person wants, who do we know that does? If we do not know anyone with the solutions for someone else’s need, do we know anyone who may know someone who may assist? That is the ultimate in building relationships and making partners of everyone. This is the essence of karma and Gratitude Marketing. Becoming a relationship builder returns success to all involved.
What if we can fulfill the needs of someone that we meet and get to know? They become our customer and move into that level of relationship. Can they still be networking partners and engage in the interchange of referrals? We should refer others to them and, if they are happy customers, they should refer others to us. If we become their customer the relationship is basically the same.
Does this networking relationship only involve the passing of referrals for business? It should include personal contacts and the referrals of anything or anyone who can help another party to satisfy their needs, personal or business. It may be a business supplier, or it might be a plumber; it could be an attorney or a banker or a college for someone’s child. If we know someone who can help someone else, we need to put them together.
So, we meet a networking stranger at an event and engage in a short conversation. Without prejudging them, we set a meeting to chat and get to know them better. We discover what they need, they may become a prospect, and we try to market to them. If we cannot provide what they need, we refer them to someone who can either satisfy that need or may know someone who may help them. They are now our partner.
Prospects who become customers always should be our partners. Even those prospects who no not become our customers can be our partners and should be valued as such. Who knows, maybe the networking partnership may convince them to become customers in the future. These partnerships can be the backbone of our success and may mean that we never need to cold call anyone again. Couldn’t hurt to try, could it?