Dating and business networking are in essence the same activity, they are both based on relationships that take time to create. Both require that you take time to nurture and build the relationships to the mutual benefit of both parties.
I had a date with a guy that I had met briefly at a casual fund raising event. He followed up and ask me out on a date. I agreed and met him for a drink and a lite meal, all very casual, just as I would the first time that I set down with a fellow network member. After about 2 hours of very casual conversation about our families, professions and hobbies and a couple glasses of wine, he leans over and makes the following statement….”How about you and I go out to the car and make out like teenagers.” When I said no, he called it a night, and has not contacted me again nor I him. Wow, he completely destroyed his credibility with me.
Unfortunately, I see this very same thing happen in business networking all the time. One of the biggest mistakes that net-workers make is trying to rush the relationships. Much like my date did.
Every relationship goes through a process, in the world of networking it is called the Referral Institute calls it The VCP Process Here are each of the steps;
Visibility – this is the point in the relationship when you first meet. You might have a conversation, trade contact information and move on. This might happen several times. The key to this level of relationship is that you remember the person. That’s all, you just have to remember each other in order to have visibility. There is just some basic knowledge of one another. This is the phase that my date and I were in, just starting to gain knowledge about one another.
Credibility – this is the second phase of the relationship. You have met each other several time, you have created trust with one another. The longer that you know each other, work with each other, support each other the higher the credibility, the deeper the trust. At this phase of the relationship you and your networking buddy begin help each other. The relationship continues to grow. There is trust in the relationships. This would be the romance phase of the relationship when dating. Hanging out, doing things together and building the relationship that would lead to the next phase of the relationship. Possibly even, “Making out like teenagers.”
Profitability – this is the third phase of the relationship, complete trust in one another, you open your network and customer database to each other and begin to take a proactive approach to helping each other. You have a deeper understanding of each others businesses, and know how to develop referrals, connections and open doors for each other. In the dating world, this could be engagement, moving in with each other, or possible marriage.
Like my date who wanted to go from “Visibility” straight to “High Level Credibility” many net-workers try to do the same thing. After one or two casual conversation they are asking for referrals and connections before it is appropriate to do so. Or, they meet you and immediately go into a sales pitch, selling to you before they have even had the opportunity to create any kind of a relationship. Instantly, they destroy their own credibility and lose the opportunity to create what might have been a successful relationship. All because the rushed the process.
So, in dating and networking, SLOW DOWN, do not try to skip over phases of the relationship building process, take time to create a solid relationship, and don’t ask for something you have not taken the time to earn.