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Practice Management > Building Your Business

The real value of networking

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In general, networking to quickly increase sales is an exercise in frustration. Perhaps you’ve joined your local chamber of commerce or business-networking group hoping to meet prospects. Unfortunately, such groups rarely live up to our expectations. 

But wait! Don’t turn in your membership card just yet. There are principles of networking that do work. And although they may sound counterintuitive, just wait until you see results.

In writing The Connectors, I observed fairly quickly that the most successful businesspeople I interviewed were incredibly skilled at networking, albeit not in the way you might think. Why were they so successful? Because they were not out to make a sale. Instead, they appeared most interested in fostering and creating relationships with people who might be good advocates for them down the road.

The focus of networking should not be to gain an immediate sale from the people you meet (which almost never works). Instead, success tends to come from building advocate relationships that may lead to referrals. The goal of networking should be to build mutually beneficial relationships with connectors who may never buy your products or services themselves.

So, it’s really not about who you meet through your networking activities but about the people they know. It’s about building relationships based on trust and credibility and having your advocates do the selling for you. That’s the real value of networking.