How to build a genuine network

Rob Borley
on 23 February 2016

Over the past 5 years a number of key relationships have helped Dootrix along the way. It’s clear that what you know is very important. However, who you know and how well you know them has a big part to play in the success or otherwise of your venture.

A network of genuine relationships is key to success. To build genuine relationships you have to, first and foremost, be genuine yourself.

Genuine networking

You should never attempt to ‘network’ just for what you stand to gain. People see right through this approach just as I am sure you do yourself when the situation is reversed. Understand that people buy people. Therefore the most important goal of any interaction is to get to know somebody and allow them to get to know you.

Here are 5 things that may help when meeting new people, particularly if you are someone to whom relationship building does not come naturally.

1. Let them speak. Don’t ever interrupt

A very common mistake during an interaction is to interrupt. Nobody, anywhere, likes to be interrupted. It makes people defensive and feel as if their voice is of less importance than yours. Resist the tendency to get your point across quickly. It’s not a race. If you are able to engage in a conversation then you will get your opportunity to speak. Both parties will be more positive for the experience.

Two sided conversations are really quite rare. When you engage in on you will be remembered for it.

2. Never give unsolicited advice.

You may have a lot of experience and specific knowledge that will help in a given situation, however you will not be thanked for trying to solve somebody’s problems uninvited.

Offering advice is a privilege that should be earned. Ask questions. Show a genuine interest in the situation. Find out the truth rather than rely on your assumptions. If you still feel that you have something to add simply offer to volunteer your experience. If your offer is accepted then your kindness and time given will be remembered. If your offer is not taken up then the respect shown in asking for permission will leave an impression.

3. Actually listen

By giving someone your full attention people know that you are genuinely interested in them. Don’t be distracted by your phone. Don’t have your eyes around the room. Don’t try and pick something up from the conversation next door. Focus on the person. Engage with them. Ask questions and actively listen to the responses, without interrupting. Learning about the person that you are interacting with and enable a connection at a deeper level.

A conversation is about engaging with somebody else. Not simply waiting for your turn to speak.

Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, says, “Nothing is more flattering than rapt attention…. Ask people about themselves, and they’ll talk for hours.” Do this and you’ll make a genuine connection, maybe even a friend for life.

It doesn’t really matter what you talk about. You don’t need to find a way around to your sales pitch. The goal here is not to make a sale it’s to make a genuine connection with the person in front of you.

Ask anything. Ask about their day. Ask about what brought them to where you are. Try to ask questions that start with “what” or “how”. This enables you to find out more about them and have a meaningful conversation. Avoid questions that start with “did,” “do,” or “have.” These questions tend to result in “yes” or “no” answers that can end a conversation before it really starts.

4. Be helpful

Recall that feeling you get when somebody does something for you without expecting anything in return. Remember the desire to return the favour. This is a feeling that you want to leave other people with.

Help people. Connect people. Don’t think about the strings to attach. Don’t think about the margin. Don’t think about what you can take off the top. Be a facilitator. Be remembered. Create a network of grateful people who are all looking for opportunities to do the same for you.

5. A person is not their job title

When someone asks us what we do we often answer with our role and company. Then we spend 10 minutes sharing a superficial conversation; each party looking for a polite way to move on and repeat the same dance with somebody else.

To make genuine connections it is important to understand that there is a person behind the occupation. Meet the person!

Person focused questions tease out the detail that drives a conversation towards a meaningful interaction that will be remembered.

  • How does your job fit in with the rest of your life?
  • What do you like to do when you’re away from work?
  • What have you found interesting about this event?

At Dootrix we care about the people we interact with. This is about facilitating genuine person to person interaction. Genuine interactions make people feel good about themselves. If you can facilitate that feeling in those who you come into contact with then you will build a genuine network of people who want to help each other. If you build real relationships then you will build a powerful network.

People matter.


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