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1 why networking doesn't work 2 why do people find networking valuable? 3 how do i get in front of the right people? 4 how do i choose a networking event? 5 how do i get the most out of networking meeting? 6 how do i build my network? 7 how do you answer the question what do you? 8 how do you tell a good stiory? 9 how do you get the most out of networking? 10 how do i build trust within my network? 11 how do i follow up? 12 how do i get the best from 121 meetings? 13 how do i get people to refer me? 14 how do i manage my network? 15 how do i nurture my network? 16 how do i build advocates?
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The NRG Community - Main Article

Nothing Compares To The Power Of Trust

While researching for this article, two points stood out:

1. Many articles about networking sound the same: Different authors, different words, but an identical message. "Making the right impression at a networking meeting is important", but that alone does not help you find new business.
2. There are only a few articles focusing on networking and trust.

That really surprised me.

Nothing in life really goes without trust. Every relationship without trust bursts like a soap bubble with even the slightest pressure. It seems that trust is at an all-time low; but everyone is looking for trusted advisors and trusted relationships. In the end, we are neither willing to refer a person we do not trust, nor do we believe in the referrals we get from a connection we do not trust.

Maybe the problem is that nobody really knows what trust is. Let's start with the definition as contained in a dictionary: "Trust is the reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, benevolence and competence of a person; hard to gain and easy to lose."

Trust is hard to gain

A while ago I spoke at a Rotary Club meeting. A longtime member took part in the discussion for (I later found out) the first time ever. He felt safe enough to participate and was delighted that he could share a story. It was fascinating to see the dropping jaws of all the other members when he spoke up.

Do your silent team members trust you enough?

Trust is easy to lose

Tim did not survive in The Apprentice because his team members considered flirting with an opposing team member disloyalty.

Are you aware how others perceive your actions?

Fact is—there is nothing magical about trust and relationships—as long as one follows some simple rules:

1. Be honest

So simple and yet so often overlooked. Please do not get me wrong—I am not talking about unconditionally opening up your heart and confess to your connection like you would to a priest. But please, stick to the facts! Way too often, people tweak the truth to make themselves shine—just to be haunted by it forever. Keep in mind—this is neither a beauty contest nor a competition of who is bigger, faster, et cetera.

There is no shortcut in generating trust. Being dishonest on the other hand is the fastest way to self destruction: You can easily spot those that are dishonest by their own contradictions and denial. Be accountable for your own actions—and take the blame for your mistakes. That is what leaves you with an outstanding reputation; not the ability to master the blame game.

2. Always Listen

Virtually every great manager I have dealt with during my career is a terrific listener. This is so basic an idea that it is hard to believe there are people who do not place a high value on good listening skills. Who cannot point to countless problems—in their own lives and in the lives of others—that developed because someone did not listen? (For that matter, think of how many problems listening would solve.)

How well do you listen?

3. Use Referrals

Have you ever used the yellow pages?Unfortunately a great many will say: "Yes!"We all have our own network that we can and should ask for advice. Weather we relocate to a new city, travel for business or pleasure—our network stays with us.

A friend of mine was out of town and needed a dentist. He used his networking group's directory to find a dentist. When he called the receptionist told him that the dentist was fully booked; that all changed the instant my friend mentioned that the dentist and he both belonged to the same networking group.

4. Collect Testimonials

Let others do the speaking! I prefer to wait for those that step forward and offer me a testimonial. Sure, one has to be very patient for that, but those testimonials always stand out.

At times—I just ask. When was the last time you asked someone to give you one? If you belong to a network like BNI or NRG—how effectively do you utilize your 1-2-1s with fellow chapter members? How many of them gave you a testimonial? How many have you endorsed? I am not talking about the oral statements—I mean written ones. The business card of a BNI chapter member in Northern VA was nothing else than received endorsements. He was very proud of them. But guess what—not a single endorsement came from another member of that chapter.

5. Write Endorsements

Remember, if you want others to speak for you—you must first speak up for them.

We are all natural sales people: As a baby and later at toddler stage we do our best to convince our parents of our needs. Usually we get what we want. So, what happens as we grow older? The answer is rather easy: The majority of sales happen without the building of a trusted relationship. Then, when something goes awry—it was all the fault of the salesperson! Still there are times during our lives when we have no problem with building trust—rather fast: When falling in love with another person...

When are you going to put your sales talent to work—for your trusted connections?

6. Believe In Your Network

One of the most often asked questions I deal with is: How should I name / do / market this? Every single time I reply: Ask your network. Just to hear a surprised: "I have not even considered that." Do you think these people believe in the power of their own network or trust that their network might actually be able to help them?

How good do you know your most trusted connections? If I asked you to connect me with let's say David Letterman—who do you know that could? Do you know, who your connections know? Most of us do not even dare asking. Or believe their network is capable of making the connection.

Do you?

7. Develop Advocates

Think about it: Would you employ a sales person you do not trust? Of course not! But in networking we like to spend a lot of time with those we do not even plan to make advocates of ourselves. A long time member of a networking group once said to me: "You got it all wrong. The only reason why you want to join a networking group is to find at least one person who loves what you do. And then sells for you. Just one!"

Now imagine: You have more than one advocate.

Happy networking!
Frank Kanu
PS: When was your last 1-2-1?
PPS: Do you know David Letterman?

Since two decades author and leadership consultant Frank Kanu helps top managers and executives to improve success ratios and productivity.
Written by Frank D. Kanu