by S. Housley
What is Relationship Networking?
Relationship networking is simply the art of meeting people and benefiting from those relationships. Often the benefit of these relationships is to obtain information and leads to further grow your business. Any successful relationship, whether a personal or a business relationship, is unique to every pair of individuals, and it evolves over time.
Effective relationship networking is all about building those relationships and maintaining long lasting connections with other professionals. The Internet is an excellent vehicle for networking. Relationships can develop in newsgroups, forums, and via email. Though nothing really beats good old-fashioned face-to-face networking to start the process of building a relationship and trust, which is why industry conferences can be so important.
Not all contacts will be useful or worth pursuing. There will be leads that don't provide much information. Use your judgment on whether the information and relationship is worth spending more time on.
Relationship networking opens new doors, often it's "who you know, not necessarily what you know".
Tip to Build Network Relationships:
- Provide genuine assistance to others.
- Be open-minded.
- Remember personal details.
- Respect cultural differences.
- Research people and companies. Know their goals and interests.
Where to Network:
So many people wear multiple hats; everyone and anyone could possibly be a networking opportunity. However, just like targeted search engine traffic, the more targeted the networking the higher the chance of success. 'Targeted' networking offers the most potential.
- Trade associations or industry specific organization.
- Trade shows.
- Focused newsgroups and topic specific forums.
- User groups.
Constantly refine and grow your network of relationships, as they are valuable and need cultivating. If you are perceived as someone who is only trying to get something your network will likely not increase. Networking is about building relationships and mutual interaction benefiting both parties. Share information and help others grow their businesses.
In many ways relationship networking and partnering overlap, and on some occasion's relationship networking will lead to synergistic partnering.
Partnering is an attractive flexible way for companies to develop new markets and additional revenue. Working together, partners can combine strengths in critical areas. Often a larger well-known vendor provides small vendors with credibility, while the smaller vendor contributes specific industry knowledge unknown to the larger vendor. Synergistic relationships come in all shapes and sizes, but the best relationships and partnerships are the ones that benefit everyone. Partnering is a good way of tapping into related customer bases. Often the partners complement each other in such a way that they can provide a combined solution that neither partner could deliver alone.
In order for a relationship to work you must have a clear understanding of both your companies and product(s) strengths and weaknesses. By being aware of any deficiencies, you will find partners with strengths in the areas of your weaknesses.
- Know what you have to offer.
- Know what you are looking for.
- Don't waste yours and your potential partner's time.
Different relationships/partnering that works:
- Product bundling.
- Newsletter exchanges.
- Link exchanges.
- Technology or knowledge exchange.
- Revenue share.
- Ad exchange.
Only when each partner is successful can the partnership itself claim success. Partnerships are genuinely a win-win. Developers, who master the art of strategic partnering and relationship networking, will obtain long-term profitability and success.
- Qualify sources.
- Adage - you are who you hang with.
- Not every relationship is a good one.
- Evaluate potential partners.
- Make it personal by taking the time to say thank you.
- Results are not always immediate.
- Carry business cards everywhere you go.
Being proactive and following up, you can have a network of contacts that you will be able to access quickly when you need them. Whether by more traditional means, such as in person or over the Internet, personal networks are essential for furthering your business. Relationship networking is give and take, be sure to help others in your quest for help.
About the Author - Sharon Housley manages marketing for NotePage, Inc. http://www.notepage.net a company specializing in alphanumeric paging, SMS and wireless messaging software solutions. Other sites by Sharon can be found at http://www.softwaremarketingresource.com, and http://www.small-business-software.net