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Practice Management > Building Your Business

Disguising selling as networking

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Have you ever been asked to give up your client list, promote someone else’s product in your email newsletter or introduce the latest strategy to those you come in contact with? Of course, no one would outwardly ask for these things–especially in the name of networking, right? The truth is I get asked for these things from networking contacts almost every day. And I have to say no.

In my book “The Connectors,” I wrote about the research done relating to what makes for a profitable, long-term business association. And it certainly is not by making the relationship about you. It is through giving and facilitating. Both are critical to developing a win-win business relationship.

Have you tried to set up a strategic alliance with another professional? Was it all about you giving them referrals and business or the other way around? In order to start a relationship that will be equally profitable, expectations need to be stated. It is often the missing link. The best way to begin is to have an agreement of how you will work together before you start referring or vice-versa.

Agree also to continue the conversation as to how you are working together periodically (perhaps monthly). These regular conversations will clearly highlight whether it is a two-way street. And don’t forget to include in your initial discussions how you will part ways if things do not work the way they were intended. The key is to get serious about committing to a business relationship that works.

Networking is not the same as selling. Networking is about connecting, communicating, giving and (hopefully at some stage) receiving.

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Maribeth Kuzmeski is the founder of Red Zone Marketing, LLC, which consults to Fortune 500 firms on strategic marketing planning and business growth. For more information, go to


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