What does it take to engage in mutually beneficial networking these days?  It seems more and more confusing.  In the “early” days sales pros met one-on-one with prospects, including potential business network possibilities.  Today networking has a whole different set of rules!  And sometimes it is easy to forget what set of rules we need to play by in the moment.

That is why when I was asked to actually meet face to face with a potential prospect this week, I looked forward to it.  Wasn’t it easier to make decisions and connections “live”?

businessmanDuring the meeting, this person let me know that he is a networker.  That he believes in reciprocal business.  I’ll do business with you, IF you do business with me.  It kind of took me by surprise.  I mean…doesn’t building relationships take time, was I supposed to jump on this “opportunity” within 20 minutes?

I didn’t feel I should have to decide right then.  I found myself doing a bit of backtracking.  And lots of questions were flying through my head:

  • Was this the type of business relationship that was going to be worthwhile?
  • What is the upfront and back-end energy going to be?
  • Was I being open-minded or closed-minded?  This was a hard close to make a decision now.
  • Do I have time for this?  After all, we only have so many hours in the day – and as I like to add – only so much energy within those hours to expend!
  • How badly do I want this business?
  • What’s the buzz about this person and company in the e-world?

As I’ve learned with other networkers, taking time to step back and ask these questions is really important.  There are a lot of opportunities to build relationships and it is up to us to make the time for due diligence so we can spend our time/energies in productive relationships.

So, the  “live” meeting was interesting.  I was able to be direct and let him know that I have good information to consider. And now I have more work to do before jumping in.  So help me out please….

When you look at professional networking opportunities, what are some of the questions you ask yourself before deciding how to proceed?  What are the “rules” of getting good information to make a good decision?