5 Ways to Show Respect for Your Professional Connections

“Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.”
~ Joyce Meyer

2015-10-08 09.28.26At the beginning of the school year, my girls were so excited to go, they would show up in my room every morning before my alarm went off to make sure I got up. They would chatter happily at the breakfast table about the day ahead and be in the car with book bags in hand before I had my shoes on.

Then came the second week.

Abby, our four-year-old, in particular, was having a hard time. Her preschool started at 7:45 which meant I had to get her out of bed at 7am (at the latest) and rush her through getting dressed and eating. Not a morning went past without at least a few tears and sometimes a full-on meltdown. This lasted for more than a week before my brilliant wife pointed out that, in our case, 7:45 was the earliest we were allowed to drop her off and anything before 8:30 was acceptable.

So I changed my process. Now, instead of dragging my girls from their warm beds, I just head downstairs around 6:30 and flip on the TV to one of their programs and let it play. I prep their lunches, get showered and shaved, and by the time I come back (around 7), they are happily up and ready to deal with the day. On good days, they’ve even gotten dressed already.

I can’t tell you what a change this has made in our household in the morning and all because I finally understood that I had to respect their needs and let them operate at their own speed.

People do this in networking all the time. We start making connections and, in hopes of getting a client or a contract, we pressure (or even sell at) those new relationships. You know what happens next: Nothing. If anything, someone who once might have been a powerful and profitable connection suddenly starts to avoid us like the plague.

Here are five key actions we can take to respect them and let them go at their own speed.

  1. Remember your deadlines aren’t their deadlines. Abby certainly didn’t care that I wanted to drop her off at 7:45. All she knew is the bed was warm and the pillow was comfortable. Sleeping for another 30 minutes was way better than getting up in the dark. Similarly, you may want to bring in four new contracts worth $10,000 each before the end of the month. For your networking partner, though, that’s probably not at the top of their list. Maybe they have payroll to make or taxes to do or employees to hire themselves. You trying to pressure them into solving your problems first is a sure way to drive them off.
  2. Remember your deadlines might not even be deadlines. As evidenced by the number of other parents who were showing up at the same time, 8:15 was a more than adequate time to drop off my daughter. Fewer tears and better results in both the short and long term. Let’s face it. In our professional pursuits, most of the deadlines we accept are somewhat arbitrary. Could we adjust our own expectations now so that we can show respect for the relationships that next month or next year might double our results?
  3. Be sensitive to the feedback. Abby certainly let me know that she didn’t appreciate the early morning “wake up and hurry” plan. Even a heartless clod such as myself recognizes that children crying rarely indicates something good. We need to be aware of the feedback we are getting from our networking partners. Does it feel uncomfortable to ask? That might be an indication that they aren’t ready to hear the request.
  4. Give them something they want. Did my daughter want to get up to get dressed and go to school? No. Did she enjoy getting up to follow the adventures of her favorite cartoon characters? You bet. And when she was getting what she wanted it made it a lot easier to get what I wanted. Before you ask for help from a networking partner, have you figured out what you can do to help them? It doesn’t necessarily have to be something big, Sometimes it’s the small gestures that have the most magic.
  5. Go about your business. Part of the reason the mornings were so stressful for me was because I felt like I had to focus on the kids first, which meant all the other things that I needed to do would come last. Making time in my schedule for my own tasks (apart from the kids) made dealing with my girls so much easier. So a particular networking partner may not be generating a lot of opportunities right now. Make a gentle touch. See how you can help them. Then move on to the other tasks in your day.

Slow down. Take time to respect their timing and priorities. Adjust your expectations and simply maintain the connection. When they are ready and able to help you, that’s when the networking magic will happen and there will be fewer tears of frustration and more smiles of success.

How do you deal with the natural delays of networking results?

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Greg Peters, president and founder of The Reluctant Networker, LLC, is a business networking specialist. He works with trade associations on both the local and national level to create a culture of better connections and greater opportunity. Find out more at www.TheReluctantNetworker.com or gpeters@thereluctantnetworker.com.

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