7 Ways to Maximize Long Distance Business Relationships

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Technology and the global mindset are prompting more and more companies to increase their reach into new cities, markets and countries. Whether because of an expansion strategy, merger/acquisition opportunity, or some other innovative marketing concept, long-distance relationships are becoming the norm.

Being dropped into a leadership role where the team is scattered across different time zones can be difficult enough; when you add geographic disparities and culture, it can be quite overwhelming. The key to success is focusing less on results and more on relationships.

1. Do your homework. Whether it’s a colleague in a different country or a team spread across a continent, technology (e.g. LinkedIn) offers a number of options to gain more insight into their background, competencies and interests. This is a quick and easy way to get a head start on relationship-building, no matter where the other person is located.

2. Expand context. Even though business is the launch pad for your relationship, it’s not enough. Exploring and expanding areas that you both have in common and finding areas of complementary interest will always accelerate the relationship process. This is even more important because of the lack of a face-to-face interaction.

3. Balance communication frequency. Early on in a relationship, more communication is better. Once the relationship stabilizes, it can be sustained with less frequent contact. Take charge of the communication process by making sure that every interaction includes a next-contact component. It’s your primary measure of relationship growth.

4. Humanize communication. Long-distance communication is often technology-based, which can be curt, cold and over-structured. Learn to craft messages that reflect emotional content. Take the time to incorporate a personal perspective. Review your email or text message to ensure the other person feels a personal connection.

5. Emphasize communication quality. When it comes to a long-distance relationship, the quality of your conversation will determine the trust level. Wherever possible, try to expand electronic communication by adding other options (e.g. phone, Skype) that allows you replicate the live interaction experience. Doing so will exponentially drive communication quality and have a positive impact on trust.

6. Over-deliver. In a business-focused long-distance relationship, delivering on your commitments and obligations is the main way to earn trust. The lack of human contact needs to be counter-balanced with a strong sense of professional competency. Professional trust is the precursor to personal trust in a long-distance relationship.

7. Contribute. Long-distance relationships require more time, investment and energy. It’s easy and convenient to simply focus on getting the job done and moving on. But this unique environment can open doors to new experiences and opportunities. Why not embrace this brave new world and seek to contribute the lives of those you connect with?

Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. Find out more about him at www.NetworkingForResults.com and download a complimentary copy of his 12-page ebook Managing the Networking Experience.

Is Face-to-Face Networking Dead?

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Technology, the economic downturn and shifting social attitudes have all impacted networking in the last few years. Some have even surmised that face-to-face networking is declining in both impact and importance as a contributor to sales and business-building success. After scouring the internet and consulting with a number of trends experts, here’s my take on networking today and in the future.

Networking is alive and well.

The Mark Twain quote “rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated” is quite appropriate. Rather than lessening in value, networking seems to have increased in importance and impact with all the extraneous factors that have come into play. A recent survey (GrowBiz and Zoomerang) concluded that 86% of business owners said word-of-mouth is important, with 70% citing in-person networking as their primary strategy. Networking is, indeed, alive and well.

Networking and the maturing of social media.

The myth of social media replacing the need for face-to-face contact has dissipated, with social media strategies accepting the reality of incorporating and intertwining online and offline marketing options. The social network phenomenon is gravitating to its true value as a component and complement to the interpersonal relationship-building process that drives our lives and determines our success.

Networking and technology overload.

More and more professionals are committing to “disconnect to connect”; turning off technology and allowing themselves to interact with others on a more personal and intimate level. By choosing to eliminate the distractions and interruptions technology brings, they are accepting the true impact of interacting with others and accelerating the relationship process. B2B and B2C has evolved to B2P (business to people), where it’s been for hundreds of years.

Networking and the trust factor.

There is no question that we have become more cynical and cautious. With up to 80% of people now researching purchase decisions online and the multitude of options available, how do we choose? There is no more powerful differentiator than connecting with others in real-time to share your passion, competence, integrity and professionalism. Building trust is, and has always been, a face-to-face activity. The lost art of social contact is becoming the difference maker in our multiple-choice market.

Networking and business strategy.

The economy continues to impact where we commit our resources and how we deliver our products or services. Every investment must be managed and measured. Networking continues to be the single most cost-effective sales and business-building strategy in today’s complex and competitive environment, but only when it is utilized strategically, to access and leverage the right network, with the right strategy for the right outcomes.

Now, go work your network!


Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To get more info about his services or to have him speak at your next meeting or conference, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com or email him at info@NetworkingForResults.com

Networking Power Tips: Follow up – The Complete Recipe

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The majority of entrepreneurs and business readily admit that they don’t follow up. In fact, surveys have confirmed up to 90% of people don’t follow up after a networking interaction. Yet, without following up, the spark created by the conversation will wither and die. There are three key components to a pro-active approach in following up and each has a contribution to make to overall success.

1. Preparing for Follow Up Success.  In order to gain maximum return of your follow up strategy, it is possible and necessary for you to prepare some areas of your upcoming networking interaction. This will make it easier for you to manage and lead the relationship-building process. Review these tactics to ensure you are properly prepared for following up.
Prepare your attitude. Appreciating that others want to meet positive, enthusiastic people is a key ingredient to follow up success. Develop and maintain a positive attitude about meeting others. Be sincere about finding out more about them and actively pursue how you can be of service to them.
Clarify your focus. Continually clarify your focus about who you want to meet and how you can bring them value. This will be extremely helpful in knowing who to follow up with. It will also be useful in allowing others to be helpful to you in more ways.
Practice your communication. You can facilitate follow up by preparing and practicing different parts of a conversation. Have an effective positioning statement and review three questions you can ask others to stimulate conversation and immediately begin building the relationship.

2. Maximizing an Initial Contact. Every person you meet has the potential to help you. Your mission is to discover how, even if this is not always obvious during an initial conversation. It may be necessary to create the opportunity to meet again. Check the following techniques and see how you can create more follow up during your initial communication with others.
Have a follow-up plan. Presume from your first moment of contact that you will want to follow up with this person. As your conversation continues and a need or issue arises, you can use a piece of information gathered earlier in the discussion to create a follow up contact. Look for common issues: Many times a networking discussion will uncover issues or interests that are common to both parties. This is an excellent reason to suggest a follow up meeting to explore the topic in more depth.
Expand a point of view. We all have a point of view, especially on topics that are important to us. Discovering what your conversation partner feels strongly about will perhaps allow you to suggest a follow up meeting to find out even more.
Enjoyable conversation. Sometimes we meet others and there is a strong connection. Compatible personalities often develop a powerful synergy. When you feel this synergy, suggest a follow up meeting. No other reason is necessary.
Interest in product/service. We are all consumers. As the discussion progresses, you may develop an interest in the other person’s product or service. When this happens, a follow up meeting becomes a natural extension to the networking conversation.
Specific information. Every conversation contains opportunities to help others. You will often find that you may have information that can be helpful. Sharing this information or suggesting a follow up contact to pass it on are excellent strategies to meet again.
Offer help. Nothing has more impact than a concrete action. Watch and listen for the other person’s pain and passion. Then find a way to offer help in either area. Simply offering is powerful but actually contributing to others will almost guarantee a follow up contact.

3. Managing On-Going Contact. A follow up contact creates an excellent opportunity. It confirms that the other person has perceived a value in your initial contact, and sees a benefit to meeting or communicating with you again. This is the step in the relationship process that is mishandled by most sales and business professionals. When you create, or are offered a follow up contact, use the strategies listed below to make sure you maximize all the benefits possible from a pro-active approach.
Genuine appreciation. One of the most powerful ways to maximize a follow up contact is to demonstrate your sincere appreciation for the opportunity being offered by the other person. Too often we take for granted the precious gift of another person’s time. Make it a point to acknowledge how much you appreciate their investment.
First of many steps. Relationships take time to develop and nurture. They require an investment of time, effort and energy. This normally happens over an extended period of time. By seeing your current contact as part of an on-going process you will resist the temptation to push yourself onto the other person.
Sincere curiosity. There is nothing more flattering than someone who is sincerely curious. Actively demonstrating that you are interested in the other person is one of the most effective ways to build trust and solidify a relationship.
Outward focus. Many people mistakenly try to use follow up as an opportunity to find more ways to convince others about their product or service. Follow up is an active part of relationship-building. Make this step a meaningful component by becoming a better listener and asking more questions.
Value. Use every conversation to discover new areas of value, for both yourself and the other person. Once you have discovered an area of need or a source of concern, you have created an opportunity to bring value. Find a way to help them solve a specific problem or achieve particular objective. This is where you can demonstrate the difference in your character and make the relationship even stronger.
Next contact. Each meeting or communication with a contact is a precious and powerful vehicle. As you dialogue with others, evaluate the conversations to elicit information, needs and issues. You will discover that others will want to meet with you again. Use each contact as a stepping-stone to the next phase in the relationship process.

These three components work together to stimulate and support the relationship process. When they are done sequentially and concurrently they build trust, establish value and set the foundation for mutual contribution; the ultimate reward of this investment. Which of these areas do you need to improve in the 30 days to accelerate your networking results?

Michael Hughes is known as North Amerrica’s Networking Guru. To find out more about him and receive a complimentary copy of his ebook “Managing The Networking Experience”, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com.

8 Guidelines on Receiving Feedback from Others.

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As an professional, entrepreneur or executive, one of your characteristics should be a willingness to grow and learn. One of the best ways to do this is through feedback from others. This information could be a response to your specific request or through unsolicited comments.

The problem with feedback is that it is subjective, carrying both the opinion and perspective of the other person. Sometimes, it can be difficult to hear comments from others and keep an open mind, even though you know you should. Use these feedback guidelines to help keep you focused and positive:

1.Become more objective. Every person has her/his opinion about any topic. It’s important to recognize that statements and comments in a conversation are usually made in a general context. Try not to become too emotionally involved in the comments of others, especially when they refer to issues that affect you.

2. Don’t ask if you don’t want to know. Sometimes we ask for feedback, yet aren’t psychologically or emotionally prepared to deal with the information. Recognize that if you ask for feedback you’ll get it, and it may not be something you will enjoy.

3. Listen. When others offer their opinion or perspective, have the courage and the courtesy to listen to their complete response. Remember that they’re giving you the benefit of their view of the situation, event or discussion. Listen to learn by appreciating the information you are receiving.

4. Say thank you. No matter what the comments are, offer a sincere “thank you” when your conversation partner has finished. This allows you to acknowledge the other person’s remarks without committing you to accept them. This neutral response also allows you time to review and assess the information received before commenting.

5. Dig deeper. One last important point in dealing with feedback is to expand your understanding of the other person’s comments. The two biggest barriers to effective communication are perception and semantics. Eliminate both by asking follow up questions to clarify your understanding of the information offered.

6. Review their qualifications. Before responding to feedback, invest a moment to review the qualifications of the individual making the statement. Ask yourself how qualified they are to make such a remark on this topic. This may allow you to immediately disqualify their words as mere conversation instead of taking them seriously.

7. Question their intent. When receiving feedback, it’s extremely important to assess the intent of the other person. Were their remarks intended to be helpful or hurtful? This simple question can go a long way towards helping you gauge the value of the information shared by your conversation partner.

8. The three feedback questions to ask yourself:
1. Am I prepared to accept feedback at this time? (say thank you anyway)
2. What are this person’s qualifications to offer feedback on this area?
3. What is this person’s intent in offering feedback (to be helpful or hurtful)

Every conversation, presentation or discussion is an opportunity to learn and grow. Are you investing in yourself by having the courage to ask for feedback? Most people will appreciate being asked. Are you looking for more support in this area? Email me at info@NetworkingForResults.com. Let’s chat. I can help.

Michael Hughes is known as THE Networking Guru. To find out more about him and receive a complimentary copy of his ebook “Managing the Networking Experience,” visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com.


Networking Power Tips: 9 Ways to Conclude a Networking Conversation

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So you made a good first impression, identified some common interests and agreed on follow-up. Now is the time to conclude the conversation in an effective way and move to new opportunities, but how do you accomplish this with professionalism and poise?

Unfortunately, most people don’t realize that a networking conversation is really part of a process. They don’t accept that these interactions have a natural and normal conclusion, and that managing it effectively increases the impact with a conversation partner. Here are some practical, proven tips to maximize this important transition point.

1.Accept reality. Conversations end, just as life does. Very few people seem to know how or be comfortable with concluding a networking conversation. You can greatly help others by managing this portion of the process and making it easy for them.

2. Watch for signs. Usually there will be a lack of conversation or a loss of interest in the topic being discussed. When this happens, it means that the energy and enthusiasm of the contact is waning. Become more aware when this happens to better manage the process.

3. Decide to act. Recognizing that there is no further value to the conversation can be a signal to either re-stimulate the discussion or change conversation partners. Identifying this issue and taking positive action is both beneficial and necessary.

4. Consider your partner first. Although some situations allow for a quick exit, remember that it is bad manners to simply conclude a conversation, leaving the other person standing alone. Consider their feelings before using this tactic.

5. Summarize the discussion. When you see no further benefit for either party, you can summarize the conversation and indicate you want to move on. You can also at this point indicate that you wish to allow the other person to meet others.

6. Create a follow up opportunity. As the networking interaction ends, it is usually an excellent point to suggest a follow up opportunity, using an issue discussed earlier in the conversation and requesting a business card.

7. Thank the other person. One of the most important and overlooked parts of concluding a conversation is to take the time to thank the other person. This demonstrates integrity, respect and professionalism.

8. Expand the conversation. Sometimes it is just as beneficial to bring another person into the conversation. This allows a change in focus and can allow you to more easily move to another conversation without feeling you have abandoned the other person.

9. Change locations. If you don’t want to abandon your networking partner but want to create some new enthusiasm in your conversation, perhaps you can ask him or her to come with you to another location such as food table, or to join a larger group,

Successful networkers prepare for success. By creating and developing more options to conclude a conversation, you will be perceived as more professional and personable, which has a direct impact on trust and the relationship-building process. Do you have specific question about concluding a conversation? Email me at info@NetworkingForResults.com. Let’s chat. I can help.


Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. Find out more about him at www.NetworkingForResults.com and download a complimentary copy of his 12-page ebook Managing the Networking Experience.

5 Networking Secrets that Leverage Centers of Influence

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We all have centers of influence. We know who they are and how they can affect our business, career or life. Yet, we continuously struggle to make the most of their power and potential.

One of the keys to maximizing centers of influence depends on how quickly, and how well, the relationship develops. Follow one or more of the strategies listed below to accelerate the process and reap the benefits these valuable relationships have to offer.

Focus on the process. Relationships follow a natural and defined process. It usually takes time and a certain number of contacts to feel comfortable with another person.
Instead of keying on the results you want, look to manage the process. There are six phases in the relationship-development process. By becoming more aware of them, you can have a direct impact on each. This is especially important when dealing with centers of influence who can offer major benefits.

Use a structure. We all lead busy lives with too much to do and too many people to keep track of. Discovering, developing and leveraging relationships with centers of influence is a priority as well as a critical success factor in business and in life. Using a specific structure to manage and track your highest-value relationships is a necessity. Develop a structure, either on paper or using technology, to keep the process moving forward for mutual benefit.

Be pro-active. We humans are social creatures. We are enamored with the relationship process. Too often, we rely on it to be self-directed. This can be enjoyable but does not help us achieve the results we want and need. Presume every conversation with a center of influence will require a follow up contact. Continually look for opportunities to confirm another meeting, create more value or bring an additional benefit.

Build trust. Trust is the single most powerful characteristic in a relationship. It is the foundation of every important relationship in your life. It can, by itself, be the stimulus to having others help you achieve your objectives. People perceive everything we do to be either for, or against, them. Discovering ways to demonstrate your trust in others, especially centers of influence, can have major effect on their willingness to help.

Clarify your objectives. You’re either working your plan, or you’re working someone else’s plan. One of the main reasons why others are not more helpful to us is that they are unclear as to how they can be of service. Evaluate each center of influence and clarify your needs from each .The more specific and selective you are, the easier you will make it for them to help you. This way, both of you will gain from the result.

Relationships take time, need to be nurtured and require investment. This can take weeks, months, or even years. Are you investing the right amount of tome effort and energy on these invaluable resources? I’ve spent the last 20 years building better relationships. If this is an area of concern or opportunity for you, contact me at info@NetworkingForResults.com. I can help.

Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To get more info about his services or to have him speak at your next meeting or conference, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com



7+1 Proven Strategies to Drive Revenues Every 90 Days

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This time of year is fraught with miracle programs that promise overnight results with little effort. The truth is that the universe only rewards singular focus, consistent effort and persistent progress. Here are strategies I have implemented that have produced tangible results.

1.Double Your Learning.

Don’t just read a business book, focus your learning on an area that will have a direct and dramatic impact on your competence, your confidence or your results. Just think what investing 90 days in one area of your business, your skills or yourself would do for your results.

2.Double Your Personal Marketing.

You are your most powerful marketing resource. When you strategically position yourself in a leadership role (network, project, environment) you exponentially drive your visibility and credibility. What personal marketing tactic could you implement over the next 90 days?

3.Double Your Network.

Drive your revenues by identifying and accessing one new network that is aligned with your value. Then leverage it by getting more involved than your competitors. This simple strategy will automatically expand your reach and increase your prospect base for the next 90 days.

4.Double Your Conversations.

Your existing network of colleagues and past clients hold incredible potential, some in areas you could never expect or anticipate. Rather than relegating these important relationships to secondary status, prioritize your highest-value contacts and make it a point to re-connect with them over the next 90 days.

5.Double the Quality of Your Conversations.

The quality of your conversations dictates the quality of your relationships. When you become more intentional about using conversations to build relationships, you build more trust, elicit more value and find more ways to contribute. Commit to improving your conversational skills for the next 90 days.

6.Double Your Follow up.

It’s an accepted fact that almost 90% of professionals fail to follow after an initial contact, yet research confirms that 80% of sales (referrals, jobs, promotions) don’t happen until the fourth contact. Doubling this one strategy for 90 days will give you a dramatic edge on your competitors.

7.Double Your Contribution.

A unique property of the human condition is our sense of obligation when we feel another person has made a sincere and selfless act on our behalf. Identify your highest-value contacts and seek to contribute to their business, their life or their success for the next 90 days.


Pick any one of these strategies and commit to implementing it relentlessly over the next 90 days. Set up an accountability structure that will allow you to measure your progress every day (yes every day!). You will be amazed at the results it produces and how it will change your life.

Do these strategies make perfect sense to you but you find you can’t implement and maintain them? Let’s chat. I can help. Email me at info@NetworkingForResults.com
Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To get more info about his services or to have him speak at your next meeting or conference, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com

Networking Power Tips – Taking Charge of a Conversation

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Whether at a formal event or in an informal conversation, the axiom that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression holds true. How can you maximize the early stages of a networking  interaction for greater personal and professional impact? Here are some strategies to help you use this important relationship phase to build rapport, increase trust and engage your conversation partner.

Feel confident that others will like and accept you. It’s natural to feel anxious when meeting others. Yet, in reality, most people are just like you. They want to meet new friends and will be happy you chose them to speak with. Remind yourself of this every time you enter a networking function. In fact, you should take a few moments before arriving to create a positive mental attitude about meeting others. This alone can have a huge impact on your conversations.

Realize the stress on others. An initial contact is usually the most stressful time for most people. When you take charge of the conversation you help others by giving them a direction. This immediately reduces stress and anxiety. By taking responsibility for engaging your conversation partner, you immediately make the experience more pleasant and positive for her/him.

Play the host/hostess role. Have you ever hosted a party? How did you welcome new arrivals? By assuming a host/hostess mentality, you will tend to be more pro-active in engaging others. Introducing yourself and starting a conversation or introducing new arrivals to others all contribute to helping others feel more comfortable and enhance their feelings of trust about us.

Smile.  “The smile is the window to the soul”. When you smile you’re whole face lights up. It shows others you are a positive person. It attracts others and makes them feel comfortable around you. A sincere smile will always be your most powerful resource in demonstrating to others that you are personable. Use it more often.

Look the other person in the eye. Eye contact is a powerful and positive trust-building strategy. It demonstrates to others that they have our full attention and, on a deeper level, that we care enough to listen to their words. To maximize this technique, look into the other person’s eyes until you determine their color.

Introduce yourself. Most people have a brain-freeze moment when meeting an new conversation partner. Others just aren’t sure what to do. Taking the initiative to start the conversation gets the ball rolling and offers a specific starting point. Most people will respond with their name, and if they don’t, it’s almost natural to ask.

Offer your hand. The handshake is the only acceptable form of physical contact between two strangers in our society. Shaking hands is perceived as an act of friendship that dates back thousands of years. In addition, it creates a physical bond with the other person. This also gives the other person an action to perform, which reduces stress and anxiety.

Be aware of your body language. When we first meet another person, we read all their communication levels almost simultaneously as they do the same. Because networking is a high-stress activity, many people are prone to excessive gestures or words, sometie4ms without even being aware of it. Less body movement has more impact, projecting a sense of confidence. Fewer words have more impact. In both cases, less is more.

Recognize the impact of your voice.  The tone of your voice can have a major impact in making others feel at ease. Sounding gentle and sincere can greatly help to make your initial contact a positive experience for others. A softer tone of voice will always make you seem more personable and positive to others. It invites a cordial conversation and implies competence.

One size does not fit all. Although these suggestions are proven and practical, it’s imperative that you be aware that each conversation is unique and individual and must be customized to both your conversation partner the environment you are in. Today’s multi-cultural busies environment may mean that you need to adapt your strategy to accommodate the other person’s background or culture.

Michael Hughes is known as THE Networking Guru. To find out more about him and receive a complimentary copy of his ebook “Managing The Networking Experience”, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com.

Networking Power Tips: 11 Networking Confidence Builders

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Does your blood pressure rise at the mere thought of attending a networking event? Are you nervous about carrying on conversations with new contacts? You’re not alone.

Many people have great difficulty simply meeting others. There can be any number of reasons for this, all of which are real. Here are some strategies to help you build your confidence about going to the next networking event.

1. Clarify your issue. Become more aware of why you have difficulty meeting others. Is it a lack of self-confidence? Are you uncomfortable because you feel you must use networking to “sell”? Are you simply unsure of what to do or say? By addressing the reason for your discomfort, you can improve how you deal with the situation.

2. Re-enforce the value. Accept that meeting others is one of the most effective ways to get more business or advance your career. By attending the event you will be giving others the opportunity to become more informed about you and your value. By increasing your sense of value you will feel more confident in meeting others.

3. Change your mindset. Emphasize the social aspect of networking rather than feeling you must find and qualify prospects or new career opportunities. Focus on making friends instead of doing business. This will take away a lot of your anxiety while giving you essentially the same results.

4. Set an objective. Once you have made the decision to attend a networking event, invest in setting a clear objective. This will help keep you focused as you meet and talk with others. It will also give you a basis for which to measure your networking success.

5. Prepare for success. If you know you have difficulty developing conversations, why not plan to reduce the chance of being in this situation. Meet up with a friend or bring along a colleague. You could also check with the host in advance to find out who else will be there (and create an important contact during the call).

6. Have a start-up strategy. Most conversations start the same way. Plan and practice the words and actions you will use until they become second nature. Here’s a simple structure for you: make eye contact, smile, offer your hand and introduce yourself. Practice this structure until it becomes a positive habit.

7. Go public. Tell others about your discomfort when you first meet them. You’ll find that many people feel the same way. Even if they don’t, they’ll usually go out of their way to help develop a conversation and you’ll feel better having shared this with them.

8. Shift the conversational focus. Sometimes the stress about meeting others comes from feeling we must carry the conversation. The most brilliant conversation partners are excellent listeners who ask the right questions. Strive to get others talking from the moment of contact. They will enjoy your company even more.

9. Have three questions to ask. Much of the stress we feel in meeting others comes from being unsure of what to say. Having questions ready that can act as conversation starters can reduce your anxiety as you make contact with another person. Every conversation has natural opportunities to ask about things like common issues, family or background.

10. Emphasize The “secret sauce.” The most powerful human bonding agent is context. When you steer the conversation into discovering areas of common interest, especially on a personal level, you accelerate your  sense of comfort and immediately feel more confident about yourself.

11. Develop your skills. Meeting others is part of your interpersonal skills tool kit. Everyone can develop these simple and effective skills. No matter what your level of confidence or competence, you can improve if you continually assess your performance and your results.

Michael Hughes is known as THE Networking Guru. To find out more about him and receive a complimentary copy of his ebook “Managing The Networking Experience”, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com.

The Relationship Factor and How to Maximize It.

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A number of years ago, I was very dissatisfied with my career. I had a close friend who had previously moved to another company. His new position included contact with managers who were looking to expand their employee base with outside talent. He recommended me as a potential candidate. His influence was instrumental in helping me become a member of that organization. I am deeply grateful for his help and guidance through this experience and think of him often.

A few years ago, I did business with a client was extremely satisfied with the results of his investment in my services. He supplied a testimonial letter, continues to bring me referrals and has had me return to do additional work in other areas. We have now become friends and he has been instrumental in my continued business success through his position as a leader in the local business community.

Since starting my business, I’ve had the opportunity to meet, and work with, a number of entrepreneurs and professionals. Although I value each of these relationships, there is one colleague who has been particularly helpful with information, contacts and support. I think of her often and am continually looking for ways to make her more successful.

I was pursuing a particular prospect and was having a great deal of difficulty making contact with the key decision maker. I reviewed my contact list and found a colleague that I thought might be able to help. When I contacted him, he confirmed he knew the right person and agreed to set up a lunch for the three of us. His participation in the process helped seal the deal within two weeks.

I- Relationships as resources.

As described above, it is possible to look at relationships as powerful resources that, if developed properly and leveraged effectively, can be used to achieve a specific purpose. We do this every time we use our influence with others, or respond to their ideas or suggestions on a particular topic or issue. Another way to relate this fact is to think back to the last time you had a need and scoured your personal database to ask, or collect, a favor.

In addition, the quantity and quality of our relationships in many cases dictate our ability to achieve our objectives. Our success in any particular endeavor is not only dependent on how many people we know, but who we know. Sometimes the quality of a relationship, or an individual, has more to do with the accomplishment of an objective than anything else.

In certain circumstances and for specific reasons, some contacts can be more willing, and able, than others. Accepting this fact recognizes the need to put relationships in their proper context. To maximize relationships as resources, it is necessary to classify them into specific categories. There are three basic relationship levels: contacts, circles of influence and centers of influence.

II- Contacts vs Centers of Influence.

We all have a lot of contacts. A contact is simply a point of reference. It has an informational component but holds little or no personal connection. There is no formal relationship component other than an introduction or physical contact point. A contact could be a person you met at a luncheon and exchanged cards with. It could be a colleague you met at a conference. In each case there is an awareness of the other person as a resource but no relationship involvement or investment.

Even though we tend to measure our worth by the size of our contact base, the majority of these names have no real value other than to make us feel good. The 80-90% of names on our contact list will never contribute to our success. They lack the key ingredients of personal investment and trust. These two critical success factors allow contacts to grow into a more personal and intimate relationship, allowing access to mutual circles of influence. Here are some key facts that support this hypothesis.

Principle of Human Dynamics. Every person you meet has the potential to contribute to your objectives, to the extent she/he is willing and able. Your mission is to discover that person’s ability relative to your needs and develop her/his willingness to contribute.

Marketing Reality. The majority of your success in business and in life will come from, or through, a small group of satisfied clients and helpful colleagues. This happens as a natural by-product of the powerful relationships with the people who have come to value your qualities and trust your judgment as person and as a professional.

The Power of Relationships. Relationships are our most valued and precious assets. We invest a great deal of time, effort and energy nurturing and building them. We hesitate, and often resist sharing them with others, keenly aware that the fragile balance of trust and quality is easily damaged or destroyed. Yet we are ready and willing to contribute when they identify an area of need or we see an opportunity to add value.

• Relationships as Circles of Influence. Each of us has circles of influence. They come as part of the relationships we create and develop. Every relationship has within it an area of potential and power to affect the attitudes and actions of others. Each circle of influence is individual and unique, and is based on the quality of a relationship. Circles of influence are a part of every relationship: with your professional contacts, your clients and prospects, as well as your personal network.

Relationships as Influence Areas. Not all relationships are created equal. In certain circumstances and for specific reasons, some contacts can be more willing, and able, than others to help or support us. Accepting this fact recognizes the need to put relationships in their proper context. Remember, your mandate as a professional means that you must continually prioritize relationships in relation to their potential to impact your objectives.

III-Maximizing Your Relationship Focus.

Are you investing time to identify your strongest relationships and prioritizing contacts as a strategy for maximizing your sales activities, your business or your career? I’ve developed a Contact Prioritization Exercise that allows you zero in on your highest-value contacts. Email me at info@NetworkingForResults.com and I’ll send you a copy.


Michael J. Hughes is THE recognized authority on utilizing networking as a business strategy. To find out more about him, or to have him present at your next meeting or conference, contact him at his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com


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