Facebook, Groupon, referral discounts, Twitter, and networking dinners – all are signs that we operate in an increasingly networked world. Marketing in this world has changed dramatically over the last 15 years, and marketing will continue to adapt to the growing relevance of personal relationships to business decisions and customer purchases. Unfortunately, misconceptions are limiting the success that many organizations and individuals experience in their networking efforts. Below are a few of these misperceptions and the truth behind them.
Networking is selfish
Whether for you or your organization, building strong mutualistic relationships will open the way for you to share your expertise and resources. If you have a friend who is working through some legal trouble, refer him or her to an attorney in your network. Do you know a company that needs your expertise? Sell them on your product or service, and you will be remembered as a reliable and meaningful resource.
Competition is king; I have to put others down in order to succeed
Not every organization or person is your competitor. Often times you will be able to serve your customers, friends, or clients best by introducing them to another customer, friend, or client who can service their immediate needs. Of course, do not send business to your competitors, but you can build a diverse bloc of organizations and individuals that will support everyone in that network.
Friends are friends, and business is business; the two are separate
Marketing is about creating and fostering relationships. Building a wall between your personal and business life segregates your network. Undoubtedly you have friends or personal contacts who would benefit from some of your business contacts and vice-versa. Meshing your work and personal life will make your work more enjoyable (because you will be doing business with people you actually like) and your personal life more fulfilling. When you see a friend who would benefit from your company’s services, do not be afraid to open your mouth.
I am not likeable enough to network
Nonsense, I am sure someone likes you. Find one person who thinks you are something special and then ask them what they appreciate about you. Once you understand your positive traits, see what you can do to magnify and emphasize those when you are around others. For your company, work with your coworkers to determine what your business has to contribute to others. Everyone, and almost every business, has something to bring to a relationship. Invest in some introverted self-inspection to understand your strengths.
By having a strong network you will benefit yourself and those in your network. To increase your marketing effectiveness, build your network around a diverse assortment of industries. Then work hard to show how you can benefit others, either with your own services or utilizing your network connections.