Relationship Networking vs. Visibility Networking
posted on July 27, 2009
Does your networking strategy match your networking need? Do you have lots of acquaintance type relationships or a smaller number of deep relationships?
Depending on the type of business you're in or your need for networking you may find that it makes more sense to be at one of these extremes or to take a more balanced approach.
At one extreme in order for people to feel comfortable doing business with you or to refer clients to you an exceptional level of trust is necessary. This is especially true in positions where people will be trusting you with large sums of their own money. You probably wouldn't refer your rich uncle to the financial advisor you met one time at a happy hour last week. For the same reason you can expect that you'll need to build very deep relationships in this arena to get the opportunities you're seeking. We'll call this "High Trust" networking.
At the other extreme you'll find "Highly Transactional" networking. In this scenario very little trust if any is really required. If someone has a need they're much more likely to come and do business with you and refer business to you because you're the only ________ that they know. I've seen florists, plumbers and auto mechanics who were active networkers do REALLY well in this space primarily because at the events they frequented you rarely if ever met anyone else in their industry.
You may want to draw a line with the two extremes at either end. "High Trust" on one side and "Highly Transactional" on the other. Now decide where you fit on that continuum.
Once you understand your own position it's time to make sure your networking strategy matches.
On the "High Trust" side attending lots of networking events is a mismatched strategy. Instead you need to be more focused on developing very deep trusting referral relationships. You can expect that this will take a lot of time, but if you're trying to be everywhere all the time this strategy will take a lot longer. Simply put; the "High Trust" strategy needs to be highly focused on developing and deepening the right relationships. A huge percentage of your networking time should be spent in one one one meetings.
If your business is "Highly Transactional" then it makes much more sense to be very visible. Being involved in numerous organizations and attending a multitude of events will serve you well. Just being known and liked should create a plethora of opportunities. While deep relationships are important this type of networker will likely benefit more from simple visibility.
Very few of us will find ourselves at one of these absolute extremes. Instead you're probably somewhere in the middle between the two and need to develop a more balanced strategy. Consider the extreme examples above and give some thought to what combination makes the most sense for your situation and your preferences.
One other item for consideration is your resource network. In addition to simply networking to identify opportunities you should also be networking to identify resources. With a broad resources network you can become the first call your clients and customers make when they have a particular need if you've been able to provide consistently good referrals to them in the past AND have proven yourself to know of hard to find resources as well.
So... Does your networking strategy match your networking need?
Author: Scott Ingram