Build Relationship Plans, Not Networking Plans

By Scot Herrick | Business Networking

Aug 06

One of the things that always bothered me about being part of the Sales organization (I know, I know: we’re ALL in sales) was the misconception that our Sales Plan was Reality.

“We know XYZ company will buy ABC product in the second quarter.”

So it is written, so it shall be done, to quote a famous movie, and into our Sales Plan it is written in stone.

The problem with this approach is that sellers have no control over buyers, only influence. But I’ve never met a Sales Manager who thought that the sales team didn’t have control over the buying process of buyers. And now you know why I’m not part of a Sales organization any more (but still in sales).

Consequently, it was a delight to read David Maister’s article on Build Relationship Plans, Not Sales Plans.

Relationship plans, notes David, are “a set of activities designed to build and deepen an asset — the relationship.”

In the article, David says there are three good tests to determine if there is a “good investment in the relationship” tactic:

  1. It shows that you are willing to invest your own time to earn and deserve the relationship
  2. It’s done in such a way that, by doing it, you get to learn more about the client
  3. It’s done in such a way that you get the chance to illustrate, not assert, that you can be useful to the client above and beyond the specifics of what you are working on now for the client.

Now, carefully re-read those three items with the point of view of you doing networking as part of your life and career management. Isn’t that a great way to describe networking? Not someone out looking for a job and contacting people, but, instead, helping other people and building your relationship with them in the process.

That’s what networking is all about: building relationships.