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Sunday, October 25, 2009

MAKING IT WORK: The Disconnect After the Connect

Making It Work with Bruce Newman

Much attention is directed towards the importance of networking. Through marketing, advertising and social media, connections are made and relationships are started. However, efforts towards the next step – developing those relationships – are often sadly lacking.

I used to be a very good tennis player. I played in several local tournaments (though I never got past the quarterfinals) and frequently got up early in the morning before work to play a few sets. I even taught tennis when I was in college (in exchange for having my laundry cleaned). Because of various physical ailments, I had to stop playing tennis a number of years ago. This past year I decided to play tennis again albeit at a less competitive level. As if on cue, a local tennis club took out a full page color advertisement in our local Pennysaver stating that membership also included free court time. Excited, I eagerly called them and arranged for an evaluation and a tour of the club. So, what went wrong?

First, their club manager never even took my contact information. When I arrived at the club, there was no one to even greet me. They did find a tennis instructor who hit the ball with me for a ten minute evaluation who, at its completion announced that I now had to get off the tennis court. Upon reentering the club, there was no one to give me a tour of the facility or even to explain their pricing structure and amenities. Nothing. Left on my own, I wandered around the club for a few minutes, picked up a few brochures and promptly exited the facility. Not surprisingly, I also did not receive a follow up phone call or even a note in the mail thanking me for my visit.

I couldn’t help but wonder why the club had even bothered advertising. Here they were, spending a significant amount of money trying to reach people – and they had initially succeeded, at least with me. And yet, with me right there, ready to connect with them and probably pay their monthly fees, they dropped the ball. Totally. I will never go back there.

I recently went to a networking function and handed out a number of business cards - and was contacted by only two individuals. That’s not networking. That’s just going through the motions.

Networking is about developing relationships, developing trust. Maybe you generate business, maybe you don’t. But you still lay the groundwork for the future. Possibly they may have need for your services in the future or know of someone who does, or vice versa. That’s what networking is about – the continuing development of relationships. If you do the work it requires, you will usually be very successful.

One final note. I did follow up with all the people at that function who gave me their business cards and now have two solid prospects as a result.

Bruce Newman is the Vice President at The Productivity Institute (PI), LLC, and specializes on consulting and social media strategies. P.S. We also walk dogs. A regular columnist at TNNW, Bruce is also the editor of the PI content-is-king newsletter that has grown from 200 to over 8,000 subscribers in less than one year. Follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and subscribe to his newsletter.

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For more information, please visit Bruce's TNNW Bio.

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The Emergence of The Relationship Economy
The Emergence of the Relationship Economy features TNNWC Founder, Adam J. Kovitz as a contributing author and contains some of his early work on The Laws of Relationship Capital. The book is available in hardcopy and e-book formats. With a forward written by Doc Searls (of Cluetrain Manifesto fame), it is considered a "must read" for anyone responsible for the strategic direction of their business. If you would like to purchase your own copy, please click the image above.


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