It's not just the connection at the show that makes a "Good Contact," it's the relationship that buds at the show, and then blossoms with care and nurturing after the show.
Just like any other type of relationship, a "Good Contact" requires give and take, too. It requires trust on both parts and integrity on both parts. And you need to plan how to handle your new relationships from the early stages so they are able to grow. At CMI, we plan what we are doing with contacts before we go to a show or networking event. Sometimes you are the one getting the contact; sometimes you are the contact. You have to decide if the relationship is something you need and want in your professional life. Here are the questions that you should ask yourself:
- Is this going to be a one-way relationship, or are there reciprocal benefits?
- Do we have something legitimate to offer each other in our businesses or is it not really a perfect match?
- Do the benefits of this relationship outweigh the costs of nurturing and maintaining it?
- Am I willing to share my network with this person?
Set your own list of non-negotiables in the contacts you make -- and be aware that others are also doing the same (you hope). The most difficult part in the networking relationship is looking at yourself in the mirror and asking "Am I a good contact?"
For more great information on networking, read Jeff Beals' book Self Marketing Power.