How to make friends … and get business

This past week I was in networking mode, with something on the calendar almost every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Even with today’s emphasis on social media marketing, many of my business friends feel that in-person networking events still help pave the way to business deals.

The advertising and marketing climate has changed, and those in search of new business get out and get around. Rainmakers are now prospecting through LinkedIn, Facebook, and the like, but they still want to be seen at local face-to-face networking events.

What makes networking challenging is staying organized so there’s time to do it all. Right now, according to my business friends, calendars are full of events and potential situations for meeting prospects and making new business friends. At the same time, many are experiencing different selling patterns: One day they are so busy they can’t turn around, and the next day it’s as quiet as a library.

Some have their teams involved with strategic planning, organizing, trying to mind-read customers, and working on projections for the remainder of the year, so time management has to come into the equation. Anything that isn’t on-fire important moves to the bottom of the to-do list. But networking remains important and holds a place near the top of the game plan.



It takes time to network the right way, with good follow-up. My mother always taught me that “anything worth doing is worth doing right.” Networking to make friends, which leads to making money, is worth doing right. Done right, networking is about helping others without expecting others to help you. What goes around comes around. Usually, a networking event brings much more back to a company than one would imagine or expect, especially when good follow-up tactics are in play.

Some people have told me that they’re challenged by follow-up. Since not all contacts are alike, sometimes one has to get to work early or stay late to get a follow-up plan in place for a particular contact. A networking guru once told me to outline what I think is the follow-up for each contact I want to cultivate, either with a phone call, email, personal note, or a catalog mailing — some way that the “prospect friend” will know I cared enough to make the effort. How many times have you gone to an event, met several interesting people, and never heard from them again? It’s worth the effort to find a way to reconnect.

Ethel Barrymore said, “The best time to make friends is before you need them.” Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” Networking, like friendship, is a two-way street. Give more than is expected and surround yourself with givers. This is a great way to make friends and get the business.

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