Networking is a powerful and critical part of growing any business. Building great networks, and knowing the right people gets you on a much steeper track of success, however in today’s day and age, people seem to be going about it in wrong ways.
When one networks, there seems to be a significant emphasis on the number of business cards collected, versus a more useful comparison of how many great relationships one can build. Once entrepreneurs understand that difference, they are able
to build useful networks (not necessarily big networks), and networks that can assist them to grow their businesses. Building a strong network also takes a shift in mindset, and how one thinks.
This encouraged me to write this article, as I started to realise the differences, I also started talking to various people and mentors in the industry, and asked them how they built and then capitalised on their networks. Understanding the differences between Business Networking and Word of Mouth Marketing, can change everything, and how you look at your connections.
1ST DIFFERENCE: NETWORKING IS DOING, WORD OF MOUTH MARKETING IS BEING.
At events, people network. Once you put a group of entrepreneurs together, networking will happen by default. Sharing of one another’s businesses and exchanging of business cards, WILL happen. Event organisers need not even spur this, as people will begin networking. So networking is about building your contact list.
But the question is “How many good business relationships do you have?”
How many of those people will help you grow your business, and refer their high-valued recommendations to you and your business? How many of those people really understand what you do, and are willing to refer new customers to you?
This is Word of Mouth Marketing. Generally, people think Networking and Word of Mouth Marketing is the same thing. Yet it isn’t. Your connections will market you because they know you are different from the hundreds or thousands of other providers out there. And they are willing to stake their connections and reputation for you. That’s a pretty tall order, and cannot be taken lightly.
So Word of Mouth Market- ing is built based on Trust. How would you earn and build Trust in the business world?
1) First, by being very good at what you do (that’s a default expectation by the way).
2) Secondly, be an extremely reliable person. Punctuality and your ability to respond to emails and messages, build the market’s perception of how reliable you are.
3) Thirdly, Give First. Extend your assistance and ask first – “How can I assist you?” Most people are out there to network and build connections by first asking what they can take. Not how they can help.
Which is why, Word of Mouth Marketing takes a shift in the mindset of how an entrepreneur would think. In networking, it’s about your business, in Word of Mouth Marketing, it’s about you.
2ND DIFFERENCE: NETWORKING IS AN INTRODUCTION, WORD OF MOUTH MARKETING TAKES WORK AND COMMITMENT That’s why it’s called Net-Work. Not Net-Sit, Net-Play, but Net-Work. We have to work at it, not wait for something to happen. Many people do not work at their networks, so their networks don’t work for them. When a net- work begins working for you, you are building an empire based on Word of Mouth. And this takes Work and Commitment.
Building your business by Word of Mouth, takes a giving culture. Connect first, give first. Many others take networking as what I can get. But if everybody had the kind of mindset, then everyone will be pretty scarce, business will be very extremely competitive, and no relationships would have been built.
My first conversation with new people I meet is always to ask them this magic question: “How can I help you with your business?” Once I ask this question, I listen intently, and more importantly, I assist them by following up with useful connections I have. People will be more thankful in doing business with you.
Now, don’t get me wrong. We don’t give only to expect to receive. It’s hardly tit for tat. That is the wrong way of building deep relationships. GIVE because you are building a healthy environment for your business to thrive. Give because you are in a position to. Sometimes you will not always be in a position to give, but the fact that you are asking someone how you can help, sets your mind and radar to give, and you will begin looking.
Building a trustworthy network through Word of Mouth Marketing, where others have great things to say about you and your work, takes a giving and caring culture. I hope this article has made a difference for the entrepreneurs out there. It has certainly made a big difference for me, when I realized this stark comparison. I hope that in my sharing here today, you are able to build a meaningful and useful network of people around you, toward the betterment of your business. Enjoy the application!