Central London & The City

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Black Belt Networking

Fri 27 January 2012

I’ve talked a lot about how to prepare for networking events and things that we need to remember and do when first meeting a referral. However today I’m going to talk about the actual process that we must go through in order to successfully network and develop the relationships that networking events offer us.

 It’s for all those serious networkers out there who are interested in doing more than just making themselves visible at networking events.  Ivan Misner coined the phrase ‘The VCP Process’- Visibility, Credibility and Profitability – he describes it as:

‘the process of creation, growth, and strengthening of business, professional, and personal relationships; it is useful for assessing the status of a relationship and where it fits in the process of getting referrals. It can be used to nurture the growth of an effective and rewarding relationship with a prospective friend, client, co-worker, vendor, colleague, or family member. When fully realized, such a relationship is mutually rewarding and thus self-perpetuating.’

Ivan’s main point is that in order for us to be profitable in our networking we must be much more than visible – we need to be credible as well.

I’ve discussed in previous blog posts the art of making yourself visible – leveraging linked in, creating good first impressions, attending BNI chapter meetings in your area and following up referrals are all ways to ensure that you are visible to other networkers. If you don’t create recognition and awareness of your position then it makes connecting and networking pretty difficult. The more visible you are, the more widely known you will be and the more information you will gain about others – in turn you will find yourself being exposed to more opportunity and well on your way to successful networking.

However the key to successful networking and profitability doesn’t just lie in making yourself visible – you need to appear credible once you get in front people you want to build relationships with. In order for the relationship to grow and survive you need to be deemed reliable, truthful and trustworthy. Ivan goes on to explain that

‘Credibility grows when appointments are kept, promises are acted upon, facts are verified, and services are rendered. The old saying that results speak louder than words is true. This is very important. Failure to live up to expectations - to keep both explicit and implicit promises - can kill a budding relationship before it breaks through the ground and can create visibility of a kind you don't want.

One of the most obvious ways you could begin to establish credibility is by appearing as a giver, not a taker at your networking events. You can begin by simply focusing your networking conversations on other people. Remember also that the usual rules of business that build credibility still very much apply, i.e. providing exceptional customer experiences, good products, strong value, etc.

Remember to follow the VCP Process and you should find that your rewards are greater and your networking far more successful

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