Friday, April 3, 2009

Building trust with a new contact

In a One2One meeting with an NRG-networks member last month the person said to me,

"My business has always come from recommendation (word of mouth). Usually as a result of some work I have done for a client where I have done a good job and built a relationship. My problem is that with a relatively small client base I am not getting enough referrals. I understand that networking is all about building relationships first, but how do I move from meeting someone to starting a business relationship?"

That question is not unusual and the answer is all about how you engage and follow up after making contact. I thought it worth sharing the first steps that some of the successful networkers use intuitively. These were confirmed in the findings of the NRG business networking research I mentioned in 'How to build trust in business relationships'.

In order to start building a relationship you have to have some sort of agreed follow up. When you meet someone you will have an initial impression of whether you like them or not. If you do or feel you may in time then the first thing is to give full attention to them. Ask questions about them and their business to establish common ground. Once you do that you will get an impression of whether you can help this person over time. Do you know people or information that will be useful to them?

Your follow up can take a number of forms;
1. agreeing to chat at the next group meeting
2. keeping in touch with email if you have permission
3. putting them in touch with someone
4. sending some useful information
5. committing to a group the other person is a member of
6. arranging an informal (One2One) meeting to get to know them better

The informal meetings are the key way of establishing trusted relationships. This will not be appropriate as a first step in many cases, especially at one off meetings. Joining a group of like minded individuals in some sort of membership group is a sign of commitment and a signal to the others that you are placing some trust in them. Like many things that you want to receive you must give first.

So to gain trust you give trust first.

Good Networking
Dave Clarke
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