In practice, we can divide people who attempt to build networking relationships into four distinct types: the Loner (little or no networking), the Socializer, the User, and the Relationship Builder. Although a salesperson's aim is to become the fourth option, the "Relationship Builder," let's briefly look at each of these types in turn.
Loners like to do most things by themselves. They may feel that they can do it faster or better, or perhaps they don't want to bother or worry other people. They feels that their knowledge and skills are often superior to most people, and they ask for help only as a last resort (and when it may be too late). The Loner is an easily recognizable type, because there are times when we all believe that we will do better ourselves than if we ask others for help. The Loner will not usually want to bother anyone else, or necessarily see much point in doing so, believing that others will be slower and will set lower standards.
Unfortunately, the Loner attitude is a major obstacle to effective networking. We need to shift our thinking greatly in this area. We should be more willing to let others assist, and we should even ask for help more often.
Socializers try to make a friend of everyone they meet. They tend to know people's names and faces, but not what they do. Socializers are not usually systematic or ordered about following up on a sales lead -- contact is random. Such a person may not listen too deeply and is quick to move on. Although the Socializer may have a wide circle of friends and contacts, he or she knows little of substance about personal skills and resources. As a result, Socializers do not often share their skills. The Socializer is also a random networker, following little or no formal contact system.
Users are likely to collect business cards, LinkedIn connections or Twitter followers without really connecting with people. They try to make "sales" or "pitches" on the first encounter. They talk about and focus on their own agenda rather than information about mutual needs. They often have superficial interactions, and keep score when giving favors. People of this type do network widely, but in a way that creates little benefit for themselves or others. Even worse, this kind of networker tends to create a bad impression, and therefore can give networking an image of being about selling, taking, bargaining and keeping score.
Relationship Builders have a "giving" disposition or abundance mentality. They are generally happy to ask others for help or guidance, and listen and learn about people carefully. Builders are regularly on the lookout for useful information for which others can also benefit. They have a well-ordered and organized networking system. This type of networker is what this post is all about -- an individual who takes a long-term perspective on relationships with others and thinks more about what he or she can give or offer than about the return. This type is out there for others, or on call to offer help whenever it is needed. If they cannot help in person, they usually know someone else who can.
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