Not all are successful when it comes to networking.
An open mind helps, and the willingness to engage in good conversation also.
Craig was the type of fellow who was only with us to pick up the business (aren’t we all.) He wasn’t interested in the benefits of any long-term mutual collaboration. Craig was hunting for the business, ‘the catch of the day.’
“I’ll give this meeting a couple of weeks Charlie, see how we go. If it doesn’t produce, then I’ll move on …”
I’ll tell you a little later, first though, let me describe what happened when I agreed to share my time.
This was long ago, in the days when I was the owner-manager of a busy design and print company.
We saw our suppliers daily, there was a regular need for expertise in ink, chemistry, other press consumables, plus of course … paper!
One particularly busy time I opened the door to Terry (our paper merchant) who was in full flow, announcing:
“Charlie! Would you be able to attend a paper ‘mill visit’ at the end of the month?
We have a new line of eco-friendly papers produced in Switzerland. You’ll (only) be away Thursday, returning Friday evening. Charlie, if you can do this, it would help me, the boss is looking to impress the new producer, I’m sure you’ll also make some good contacts?”
Impossible I thought, before responding that he’d best ask another, someone with a little more free time … “I couldn’t afford time off from the business Terry.”
Terry was persistent. He explained that, apart from my time away from the office, here was an opportunity. Fights, transfers, food, and accommodation were all ‘taken care of.’
Before long I ‘saw sense’ and surrendered to Terry’s persistence. With the necessary delegations in place, a few weeks later I boarded my mid-week flight. I and a healthy delegation were on our way to Zurich.
As I made my way toward my seat I couldn’t help but notice a rather large gent., sporting a mop of dark hair and a beard. He (Geoff) greeted me with a cheery ‘hello there’ as I took the seat beside him, just in time, as we were on our way …
Geoff, I learned was Creative Services Director with Glaxo Pharmaceuticals …
‘So, what do you do, Charlie?’ he asked.
Geoff and I learned a lot over the next few days. Not least the benefits of a good Bavarian lager and of course, non-chlorine bleached print materials! In fact, we were both so content being away from the routine, we rarely ‘talked business.’ We did though, returning to London, exchange contact details, while thanking Terry, our host before continuing our separate ways …
I dropped both Geoff and Terry handwritten notes in the post over the following days, thinking no more.
It was several months later I received a telephone call from Geoff. He wanted to know whether we could use a little more business?
In fact, it was the beginning of several good years of trading with Geoff. He was someone who understood the importance of common ground, strong relationships, and trust.
So, returning to Glenn, I suggested to him that it was unlikely there would be any takeaway business in the room today. If he wasn’t prepared to sacrifice time networking in support of better relationships … he’d likely find himself forever looking for the incidental business, the ‘order book fillers.’
You may have the best products and services in your sector … but if you aren’t prepared to engage your prospects, and learn from them, you’ll be disappointed.
Business is personal because people buy from people.