Part 1 of a 3-Part Series: How to Build A Relationship, Not Just A Network
By: Kathy Kent Toney, President of Kent Business Solutions
Photo by Gustavo Ering from Pexels
Ever wonder how to convert the stack of business cards you collected at a networking event into great relationships?
If so, then keep reading!
To answer this question, I recently interviewed one of my referral partners and friends, Frank Bonura, known as The Connector. This is the first of three blogs on the subject of How to Build Relationships, Not Just a Network.
Kathy: Welcome, Frank, it's great to have you!
Frank: Thanks for having me, Kathy!
Kathy: So, tell me what's the biggest difference between building a relationship base and just swapping business cards.
Frank: Well, that's the difference. A relationship base is just that—relationships—which implies mutual trust and respect. Networking very often is just card swapping. And some will say it's a matter of semantics. For them it might be, but there’s a massive difference between the two.
With relationships, you're taking the time to really get to know someone so you can create personal and professional value for them. People that get relationships are focused on that, not quid pro quo, like Adams Toyota telling them they’ll get a free diamond necklace with every test drive.
It’s about creating value when you meet somebody for the first time, bringing them something or doing something for them. It's not about keeping score. And anytime two quality people get together, in my opinion, therein lies the value.
Now, networking events can be of value, but I hate elevator pitches. The last thing I want to do is give somebody an infomercial about Frank Bonura, boring them to death. People are told how important elevator pitches are for networking events.
The problem with that is these pitches are all about them. I know some people who go to networking events and they'll ask questions like: “Hey, tell me about you.” That’s a better way to go about it.
Either way, networking events are like speed dating. It’s often to get to know someone. That’s why it's important to follow-up with some one-on-one time where you have an opportunity to really get to know each other. So, a Zoom call will never replace a handshake, but it’s a great start.
For years I've witnessed people coming back from networking events with a stack of business cards and they’ll just throw them in their desk or put them in a Rolodex, and that's about as far as it goes. So, networking events can be productive if you follow up to schedule meetings, have some meaningful discussions to get to know people and then convert those networking contacts into a relationship base.
The difference is mindset—how you approach it and the depth of knowing someone on the relationship-side. It's knowing them well enough to know what you can do for them as human beings—for themselves and their families. If you have that attitude, you’ll be much more likely to create value for everyone you encounter versus swapping business cards. That’s how I see it.
Kathy: I agree, Frank! For me, I try every day to start out with the idea that I want to create value for everyone I talk with. Not only is that a great motivational factor for me, but it really helps people and that's what it's all about, right?
Frank: Yes! All of this is really pretty simple—it’s about creating value for people. But you do need to be genuine about it. You can't fake sincerity for very long. In the end, this relationship process is really not complicated at all.
Kathy: I agree! Well, that's a wrap for today. Thanks for joining us, Frank!
Frank: My pleasure.
Stay tuned for our next segment on the two primary benefits of creating and nurturing a relationship base. You won’t want to miss it!
Speaking of relationship bases, how would you like to improve feedback loops to increase your customer loyalty?
If that’s you, download my free Customer Loyalty Checklist to discover ways you can improve your customer relationships so they'll keep coming back for more!