It’s all about building relationships . . .
Courting is such an old fashioned world – I wonder how many people haven’t even heard of it? It’s a quaint expression that my parents used to use . . . ‘your sister’s courting‘. ‘They’re courting‘ and it hints of gentle times gone by when it was understood that relationships were worth an investment of time and attention.
The process was/is all about getting to know each other, enjoying each other’s company, sharing time, showing appreciation and building the relationship(s) over time.
So why the picture above – where does that fit?
It’s a great example of ‘courting’. In this case it’s Paul ‘Sound Guy’ Spicer of LNP Sound (he’s the one in the middle at the front). Paul took his team out for a great night at Walsall Football Club recently. It was fun, we had proper corporate hospitality and Paul clearly has a great relationship with the team at the Club. They are clients and friends of his and he’s a season ticket holder who has sponsored a game. He also has a great relationship with his team and he regularly invests in those relationships. I’m on the far right next to Andy (my partner) who is also a Director of Paul’s business. We were all made to feel special and appreciated. It was fun and we all got to get to know each other even better. Paul made that happen.
I’ve known Paul since the beginning of this century and he is a great guy who consistently invests in his personal and professional relationships. He gets – and keeps – his clients and there is a strong bond that he’s built with consistent positive behaviours.
So you won’t be surprised that I often use the term ‘courting’ in the context of ‘courting your network leaders’.
Paul is a great example of living this principle. He can be relied upon and has even sorted the sound out at an event where he wasn’t the sound guy . . . his reputation goes before him.
How well do you court your network leaders and strategic partners?
Why Court Network Leaders?
Well, to me a network leader is someone who has stepped up to lead a group and give their time, energy (and sometimes money – or at least ‘opportunity cost’) to help others.
I know, because I’ve done it . . . lots of times over many years.
Putting on events, free or paid, organising speakers or being the speaker, organising logistics, etc takes a lot of thought and effort and it’s often done ‘behind the scenes’. It’s thanks to our network leaders that these events happen and we can all pick and choose what networking events we want to go to.
Are you a Giver or a Taker?
Or are you both? I have seen lots of people who go networking and don’t fully participate at 100%. Some of them even moan about certain aspects of the network (sometimes even to the people who can do something about it . . . more often just to other negative naysayers).
Making Yourself Useful
You may be a delegate but what if you really made yourself useful and acted as if you were part of the host team? Instead of focussing on yourself, how about giving something back? You could help welcome people, offer to register people, meet, greet, introduce them to other members of the network and generally make yourself useful.
One of the best tips I had was from a business coach of mine years ago . . . I was wondering how to have an impact at a local networking event that was successful and big. There was typically 80-100 people at the breakfast event and I was finding it challenging to meet more than the small group of people I sat around the table with for breakfast.
My coach, Steve, suggested I act like the host or part of their team . . . ‘pour the orange juice, the coffee’. Such a simple tip but it’s stood me in great stead over the years – it really is a great way to get to know more of the people at an event and build your relationships with other networkers AND your network leader. In most cases they are grateful for the help and support.
I took it a step further. The lovely ladies who were pouring coffee from behind a big serving table were snowed under and couldn’t get to everyone quickly enough. So, after taking a deep breath and thinking ‘what have I got to lose?‘ I slipped behind the serving table and started asking people if they wanted tea or coffee. It was a revelation!
Instead of talking to each other, the people stopped talking to each other and started talking to me . . . ‘hang on . . . you’re a delegate?!’, ‘you’ve got a guest badge on?‘, etc. So we had opened a conversation. Many of those conversations continued well after that morning and some turned into business.
The bonus was that the network leaders found it amusing and helpful. Their delegates were getting looked after by one of their delegates. It was fun ;-)
What are you doing (and what CAN you do) to build trust with your network leaders? Are you helping them? Are you telling others about them and their events. Are you getting to know what they want and find ways you can make their life easier? Most people won’t even think of this.
Can you be a backup for them in any way? Over the years I’ve helped sign people in, introduced new attendees to other people in the room and offered to speak if they are ever let down by a speaker.
There have been times I’ve been called on to run a meeting for the network leader and been seen as a trusted supporter and ‘failsafe’ stand in speaker as well as being asked to speak regularly.
And I’m always conscious to add value, not just go in pitch . . . it’s all about ‘playing nicely’ and building the relationship and the trust. Being a team player has some great rewards – professionally, personally and financially.
Thankfully, it’s helped me build relationships that have stood me in good stead over many years. It’s led to referrals, business, many opportunities to market what I’m doing and attract more clients and build my database – all while helping others. Think win-win-win and you’ll get returns. Win 1 – the attendees; Win 2 – the network leader; Win 3 – you have to win too. If everyone gets a win it becomes sustainable and repeatable. Win-Lose attitudes don’t work in my experience.
Investing Your Time
Building quality relationships takes time. Some relationships turn into great long term mutually beneficial business partnerships, others don’t. Using a fairy tale metaphor – you’re likely to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince (not that I’m suggesting network leaders are frogs – it’s just a metaphor!)
What’s your patience quotient? Is your approach more ‘farmer’ or ‘hunter’?
I’ve seen people take the short term approach and move on very quickly if they don’t get the results they want quickly. I’ve seen others take a longer term approach and show greater consistency. You can guess who gets the better results from their networks.
Your Return on Investment
Invest your time, energy and skills appropriately to work towards the right return for you. When you go to a networking event I hope you already go with a clear purpose and focus. It’s the same principle when courting your network leaders. What return do you want to see? More clients? More speaking gigs? A wider reach? Growing your database? Then ask yourself What am I prepared to invest to get that return? Time, energy, money, communication.
Getting Yourself Right First
My advice would be
- to understand yourself and your own style first. DiSC is an excellent behavioural profiling tool and it’s quite straightforward compared to some systems. (More of that in another blog!)
- then, work on understanding other people’s styles so that you can adapt and adjust to help more people.
Are you naturally outgoing and friendly or do you have to get ‘your networking head on’ and make an effort.
Remember, you don’t have to completely change overnight. If you decide to start courting your network leaders and building profitable relationships then you can ‘start small and build‘ new behaviours or approaches. Start making small investments in those relationships where there is mutual benefit. Test it out. Let me know how it goes.
2 Book Recommendations
- A great book to help see the long term impact of small daily/weekly changes is ‘The Slight Edge’ by Jeff Olson. It shows how ‘you can create powerhouse results from simple daily activities’. I loved it and have totally embraced the implementation of small changes, consistently over time. I highly recommend it.
- My second book recommendation is ‘The Miracle Morning’ by Hal Elrod. This book has had such an impact on a night owl like me that I’ll be blogging separately about it. For now . . . I’d summarise the reason for including it here in this way:Investing the first hour (or whatever time YOU decide) of your day is powerful to set the tone of your day. Part of my ‘Miracle Morning Routine‘ is asking myself ‘What Will Make Today a Great Day?’.
Another question I ask myself each morning is ‘What Am I grateful for?‘.
If building relationships is important to you then a few moments thinking about those questions will help you clarify what you choose to do and why each day.
Suggested Action/Next Steps
- Review your current relationships – particularly with network leaders and strategic partners
- Identify some key people you’d like to ‘court’
- Get started – connect with them on social media platforms – especially Linkedin – and start building the relationship(s) – online and offline
Mini bio: Mary lives and works with her partner, Andy Gwynn, in the Midlands (UK). They are passionate about helping businesses grow. They are focussed on building a Franchised team of coaches and trainers – specialising in Linkedin – to help businesses maximise the potential of this powerful platform. They support their team in building great businesses so that their team can support business owners and leaders throughout the UK and overseas. Find out more at www.3degreessocial.co.uk