Networking is often considered the lifeblood for small businesses, but many shy away from potential leads and new business because they hate to network. David Adams reveals how networking and having a good relationship can lead to business success. 

The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines “Relationship” as:

A connection formed between two or more people or groups based on social interactions and mutual goals, interests, or feelings.

This is the ultimate basis for business development; we need to form relationships with people to whom we want to sell, with those we want to employ, with those from whom we buy, be they services or raw materials in order to achieve best price and best service.  It is vital that in starting and growing a business we find and form the best relationships possible.

So, what are we afraid of? What do we shy away from in pursuing this necessity? When we start a new business, we tend to do so because we have a desire to develop a particular type of product, make a particular type of widget. (I suppose these days the corresponding metaphor for widget is “App”). Often, we don’t even consider the structure of the business and all of its relationships before we start, unless we prepare a proper business plan with all its attendant parts such as Vision, Customer Purpose, Competitive Advantage, Strategy and so forth.

We might know a few people – potential suppliers, possible customers, and professional advisors – but do we know the people who are really going to help us build that business? In order to find them, we need to network both on-line and in person.

We have to meet people, get to know them, learn to trust them and then form the sort of relationships that will help them and help us to do business together. It’s not just about Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (and now Instagram) though they help. It’s about face-to-face relationships. I don’t believe that I’m being old-fashioned by espousing the necessity of starting with F2F! Face to Face is, in my view, essential – yes Skype is OK once you’ve got to know someone but I don’t believe you can get to know people well enough for a proper business relationship until and unless you’ve met them, understood them, looked into the whites of their eyes, asked them tough and often Foolish questions, seen as well as heard their response, and watched how they’ve formulated the answer.

This is not easy and often it’s not quick. What can be quick is the initial reaction you will obtain at a networking event, where you have an opportunity to make connections in person. You will use your intuition with a few quick questions “feeling” their response and your reaction. Don’t just trust your gut, obey it!

The bottom line is that by spending a few minutes meeting people, you can avoid wasting hours and many hundreds of pounds in building relationships with the wrong people.

David Adams is a business and leadership coach and mentor. He is also the author of Well-Versed: A Powerful Guide to Business Success  (£14.99, Panoma Press), now available on Amazon.

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