The traditional view of networking is to go to a meeting with lots of other professionals to see if anyone might be interested in doing business with you. Of course, in a world where most of us are tired of being sold to, this “me me me” approach is less and less effective… leading to the recent “pay it forward” form of networking, where you first try to help out every stranger/professional you meet, in the hopes that karma (and social reciprocity) will result in clients coming back your direction soon enough.
In this guest post, Derek Coburn lays out his vision of “Networking 3.0” where it’s not about selling yourself, or doing someone else a favor first so they’ll feel morally obligated to sell on your behalf in return, and instead is about trying to understand the business needs of your current clients and who they need referred to them in order to become more successful themselves.
After all, the reality is that for many clients, giving them new clients for their business will improve their financial situation more than any portfolio recommendation could have possibly achieved anyway. And clients who have had that much financial success in their own businesses – thanks to your referrals – will not only become “stickier” than ever and more likely to retain, but will also become your advocate for future referrals.
But the key shift is that if the goal is to help your clients’ businesses first, then the fundamental purpose of networking is not to find clients yourself, nor to find strangers to do favors for in the hopes that they’ll want to get to know you better and refer you, but instead to find opportunities to refer your existing clients some new business opportunities, in a manner that creates truly satisfied clients… and maybe even engenders a new and better relationship with the person whose problem you just solved as well!