Networking and Relationship Development


Where did the term “networking” originate?  How did it evolve into a socially understood term?

The computer definition is “Linking of computers to allow them to operate interactively”.

The social definition is “The action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts”.

The term “networking” in today’s social environment is people meeting at events and exchanging their business cards, all in an effort to do business with one another.

The question is who makes the first follow-up call or sends the first email, and how is that set-up or understood between the two parties in their exchange conversation? What are your intentions? Do you just want to sell your products and services? Are you genuinely interested in developing a professional or social relationship?

The social definition of networking is quite clear: to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.

I think the key word in the definition is “developing.” To develop a relationship or anything of substance takes time and the right type of mindset

The famous saying by Theodore Roosevelt is “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” That is a great philosophy to follow.

Some people send an email to make contact (It was great meeting you at event). Others just take the easy way out and email their company information without permission. 

We are in a permission marketing environment, and to send unsolicited emails to someone you just met without permission will send up a red flag that your only interest and intention is to sell your products and services.

There is a popular saying in business circles: “People do business with people they know, like, and trust.”

This process of trust-building starts at the first point of contact; wherever you may meet, whether at a networking event, conference, luncheon, chamber of commerce annual meeting or press club dinner.

If you want to be of value to people you meet, let networking events be a tool and strategy in the process of relationship development. 

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