If you are new to business networking, you may have heard the terms “dance cards” and “1-on-1’s” and wondered what they mean.
To best answer that question, it’s important to remember that business networking is all about building relationships. In fact, it’s the strength of the business relationships you forge that will determine your level of success at business networking.
How do you build a relationship with someone?
Relationship building requires the same activities and level of commitment regardless of the kind of relationship you’re trying to build — a relationship in business is built the same way a personal relationship is built. Basically, building a relationship with someone requires that you show genuine interest in that individual. Having common goals, likes and dislikes, etc., all enter into the mix. Relationship building takes time, consistency, effort, and sincerity.
Most business networking groups meet formally on a regular basis — often, once each week. During the formal group meeting, there is usually an opportunity to catch-up with the other members, talk about what’s happened the past week, and so on. Depending on the organization, there may be training, mentoring, reporting, or other formalities during the weekly session.
But relationship building doesn’t tend to happen in the regular, weekly group meeting (although it may start there). Relationship building comes from meeting with the other members outside the regular group meeting. These encounters frequently happen over coffee, breakfast, lunch, or after hours. It’s at these times that members can show a genuine interest in one another by learning about each other’s families, businesses, hobbies, and so on.
These get-togethers are called “1-on-1’s” because the members are meeting with one another individually. In the BNI organization, these “1-on-1’s” are called “dance cards”.
“1-on-1’s” and “dance cards” are vital to relationship building, and therefore to the success of your business networking efforts. Members in your business network will be much more likely to introduce you and refer you to persons they know if you’ve built a good relationship with them first.