Written by Lindsey Bnadad
“I don’t have to market my business because I’m always networking.” You’ve probably heard people say something like this, right?
I hear it all the time.
In fact, at lunch a few days ago, a friend told me he doesn’t need to bother with marketing because he’s always pounding the pavement meeting new people. I found this interesting. He didn’t realize that networking is marketing. It’s the opportunity to build and leverage relationships, and, when done right, it’s one of the most powerful ways to build brand awareness.
Good and Bad Ways to Network for Business Development
There’s a right and wrong way to network for business growth. The wrong way, the way that wins only temporary business and may end up leaving a bad taste in customers’ mouths is networking with an agenda. This style is solely focused on what’s in it for me. It comes from a place of “I’m here to meet you so that I can sell you my widgets because I need to sell my widgets to make money. Buy my widgets so I can have all the money to pay for all the things I want.” What’s missing here is YOU.
This kind of networking coincides with a “conqueror’s mentality.” The conqueror views the world in transactions where each instance has a winner and a loser, and the goal is to win, win, win. They possess a short-term outlook: “what can you do for me today?”
Although this can be used to generate short-term revenue, it isn’t necessarily the best long-term strategy for a successful business. With a focus on immediate gains often comes a need to continue making more and more sales to account for the poor quality of products or services that result from cutting corners. It’s a vicious and ultimately unsustainable cycle.
The right way to network for sustainable business growth is to take a long-term, relationship-oriented approach—the servant’s mentality. The servant views every interaction in terms of how he or she can help others. This comes from a place of genuine value for others, without pretense. It’s that “rising tide raises all ships” perspective that believes in abundance and mutually assured benefit. “I win when you win” or “I win because you win.”
Networking from a servant’s perspective means entering into conversations to learn about others and how you might partner with them. There’s an understanding and acceptance required that your good efforts will be reciprocated. This takes longer to get results, but the results are often longer-lasting and more valuable for you and your clients.
If networking is an opportunity to showcase your brand, then your networking style reflects your brand’s value proposition. When you’re authentic about your care for others, it creates trust integral to their willingness to conduct business with you. When approached from a servant’s mentality, networking can be such a powerful marketing tool.
Do you need help identifying your value proposition or figuring out how to tell your authentic story? Kudzu’s got you covered. Let’s get started with a FREE consultation.