Do You Know How to Network; Its Never Too Late to Learn

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Bruce W. McCollum -Today’s Blogger

It gets thrown around like an everyday cliche, the term “networking in business“.  Of course, we all have to network, whether you sell real estate or run a nursing home, business and business success are about people.

This does not mean that everyone who has maintained employment or sought a career as an entrepreneur is an effective networker.  That being the case, what ingredients can everyone embrace that makes networking beneficial, long-lasting and a part of our personal happiness and fulfillment?  These strategic nuances will help.

  1.  Look for Mutual Benefit

Networking in business is about making the sale.  People come together to ensure everyone is aware of one another’s products. services and/or special talents and that’s okay.  However, a more effective networking approach is to add a bit of spirituality to the process and explore how you can benefit from someone as much as how they can benefit from you.

A number of years ago my team and I ran a case management firm with a bit of a twist.  While we identified long-term care in the community for those we served, we earned a per diem from monthly fees paid to assisted living, home care companies, etc. because we visited the person served every ten, (10) days and issued a report to responsible parties.

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My Staff in 2006

Nursing homes loved us.  Why?  We did not have the approach of some referral or placement services, locating a bed and earning a one-time commission.  We met with the discharge planner and families to help contemplate and plan more complex discharges.  In situations where guardians and relatives of patients seemed to just stop responding to the social workers, we were able to use our clinical acumen and understanding of the dynamics of the long-term care community to intervene.  It made a difference.  Why?

Because our focus was three-fold.  (1)  We helped the nursing home to reduce uncompensated care, (2)  We helped families who lived some distance from SE Michigan to better monitor care, (3)  We earned in the process.

Far too many in business refuse to see networking as a mutually beneficial process.

2.  Run from the Wrong Qualities

Some qualities do not bode well in the networking environment.  These include arrogance, selfishness and narcissism.  An arrogant person may only see their own value and even assign a greater value to themselves and their initiatives than what accurately reflects the circumstance.  As a result of this misplaced thinking, all of their networking is one-sided and as long as this quality is dominant, nothing changes for the good.

The selfishness and narcissism are never far behind.  When do they manifest?  When the networker with the wrong outlook feels a relationship is not serving him/her well, they lash out – not in  a professional way to demonstrate an imbalance in a relationship – but in a narcissistic way that does not impart a lesson but attacks based upon what the misguided networker feels they deserve.

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It makes you think of Warren Buffet’s advise to borrowers:  “Don’t piss off the bank that says no.  When you are a better applicant you may need to go back to them.”  The same is echoed in Magic Johnson’s Book, “32 Ways to Be a Champion in Business” that chronicles his years-long effort to seek financing for his theater business in depressed neighborhoods.  His accounts of presentations in front of public pension boards and others and the denials are legendary lessons in terms of how he handled it.  And he did turn many “nos” into a “yes”!

3.  Embrace Right Principles for Making Contact

I have long been an advocate for the “dual-process” introduction.  For example, let’s say my company that sells what I am convinced are the best continuing education products for real estate professionals who seek to establish a niche, wants to influence an entire office of accomplished realtors.  I will not make a phone call to the head of that office first.  First, I write a letter so they know who I am and what I represent.  I direct them to our web presence and let them know I plan to call.

The result?  When I do call they already know if they want to talk to me or not and if the potential networking benefit is desirous and worthwhile.  99% of the time, my calls are answered and good things result.

4.  Be a Mature Realist

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Every dilemma that crops into your mind is not everyone else’s current emergency.  You must respect the time of others and the value of acknowledging individually defined boundaries.

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Hopefully all of this can come together and keep us all the powerfully effective networkers we know how to be.

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Another Blog Post from the Minds of Health Industry Marketing, LLC

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