In networking, there are two linchpin ideas we talk a lot about:
Referrals—your goal as a networking expert is not to make sales, but to make connections that lead to mutual referrals.
Know, Like, & Trust—people prefer to do business with someone they know, like, and trust.
Let’s put those two ideas together. You want your connections to know, like, and trust you so much that they would refer their grandmother (and everyone else they know) to you. Growing this kind of network is a long-term process, but each piece of “know, like, & trust” begins with one simple step: showing up.
For people to get to know you, you have to physically (or at least virtually) show up. Attend networking events regularly so that you are a familiar face and voice. Make appointments for one-on-ones, and show up on time, ready to get to know the other person.
When you attend events, meet with contacts, or just spend time in the community, show up with an open, friendly, and positive attitude. Finding the things you have in common with others is also a great way to connect, which requires you to show up as a person and share some things about yourself.
Being trustworthy is the “pro level” of showing up. There is no substitute for showing up in your business and relationships with the confidence, presence, and groundedness that come from knowing your values and sticking to them.
Showing Up Authentically
In a business world where many people are out for the quick buck, the next big break, and the shortcut to success, it can feel like you are at a disadvantage when you are taking the first steps of this long game of networking with integrity. But if you have ever been on the receiving end of a hard sale or a shady deal, you know that acting without respectfulness and integrity means you have to hustle three times as hard, because your only business is first-time customers.
When you show up with authentic respect for your clients and for your own principles, you still have to hustle to get those first-time customers. But then more and more of your business will come from repeat customers, customer referrals, and referrals from your network of people who have never even used your product or service, but who have learned to know, like, and trust you.
What is your favorite example of getting ahead by showing up?
Genet Jones, owner of The Thoughtful Wordsmith, has been writing for fun since 1989 and for profit since 2005. She also enjoys editing (yes, really), yoga, mountain biking, and exploring Northwest Arkansas.