Networking with care.

“People don’t care what you know until they know you care.”

It’s an axiom we’ve heard a million times from family, educators, and coaches alike. Truth is it offers immense wisdom in an area we regularly see clients struggle: networking. 

Networking is an essential part of any business. For B2B companies that typically lack the broad customer bases of B2C, it’s even more important—with fewer potential customers, relationships will likely chart the course of your growth. Fortunately, most executives know this—consequently, there are myriad options, including industry nights, trade shows, galas, dinners, chambers, and mixers. 

If it’s so obvious, why do so many companies struggle to find new relationships? And, on top of that, why do so many struggle to turn relationships into meaningful partnerships? 

Attitude and approach. 

Most folks enter networking events with the following attitude: “I have got to really represent my business well. I’m going to share all the awesome things that we do, how good we are at them, and how great our organization is! I’ll educate them so well they’ll be champing at the bit to work with me!” Note the distinct lack of curiosity here—there’s nothing about the other parties attending. No interest in what THEY do. No plan to learn about THEM. 

Now on the day of the networking event, this attitude manifests the following approach:  

  • Introduce yourself to the other party. (A good first step!) 
  • Tell them about what your company does. (A little selfish, but OK.) 
  • Tell them all about your features and benefits and how awesome you are. (Again selfish, likely not very interesting to the other party no matter what they say. They aren’t listening anyway, they’re busy planning their version of this same bad conversation.)
  • As an afterthought, ask what they do. (Probably without listening very well, just too busy thinking about the sale.) 
  • Tell them to give you a call if something comes up. (They won’t, even if it does.) 

A wasted opportunity and potential partnership has been squandered. 

Consider instead the following approach: 

  • Introduce yourself to the other party. (Classic.) 
  • Ask them what brings them to the event and what they’re hoping to get out of it. (A giving, others-centered approach is not only unselfish, it’s memorable, and it’s likely no one has ever asked this before.) 
  • Ask them what their company does and what a good introduction for them might be. (Again, chances are no one has ever asked them this. They’ll be happy to tell you, and maybe even relieved. Hello rapport!) 
  • As an afterthought, give them a brief introduction and a 30-second commercial about your company and how you help people. (They might actually listen—after all, you’ve just shown you’re a good listener.) 
  • Ask if it makes sense to connect afterwards on LinkedIn and grab lunch sometime. (They’ll say yes!)

Perhaps more than the professional rewards that come from using this approach, you’ll find a welcomed change in attitude: Less stress, more curiosity. Less selfishness, more kindness. More listening, less talking. Helping others before you help yourself. Making more money is just icing on the cake.


Did you learn something new, or perhaps you have a question? We’d love to hear from you!

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