Complimentary article from October issue of Parking magazine. You can subscribe to Parking magazine, or receive for free with your NPA membership.
By Ross Shanken
In the parking business, creating lasting relationships is a complex game of building trust, demonstrating expertise and providing undeniable value. To truly master these qualities, one must embrace the science behind networking.
The key to perfecting this is simple: Start With You.
Identify What You Bring to the Table
What do you have to offer, what are your strengths and how can you help others? Rhetorically answering questions like these can help you understand what value you can provide to others. Once you truly understand what you bring to the table, you can accomplish or improve just about anything.
In mutually beneficial relationships it’s important for all involved to know that each party has a demonstrated ability to work on the other’s behalf and that everyone takes the relationship seriously, and this all starts with value.
Build Parking Relationships at Events
Luckily, the parking industry has countless events and opportunities to meet a diverse group of individuals. There is certainly a level of nervousness that exists when building a new relationship, but here is a tip: focus on how you can help others, not on how they can help you. By taking your needs out of the equation, you demonstrate your genuine interest in others, and they in turn will show a genuine interest in you.
Providing value to others is great and all, but does it lead to finding opportunities? The truth is you can't build a relationship without providing value. The key to this is increasing your wheelhouse.
Become an Expert
Start today by becoming an expert in a topic that interests you. When Smarking was just getting started, the leadership team was eager to carve out its niche. We were obsessed with figuring out which direction we should take the company.
The secret was simple; we needed advice from parking experts to learn and understand current industry needs. Everyone the team consulted with provided immense value to the firm and it is our responsibility to deliver value back to them.
Manage Your Expectations
To build real relationships, you must be honest about your expectations. Not everyone will help you find new opportunities today, but it's likely that someone may help by introducing you to a person in his or her network. Take note from the game of baseball.
Players devote years, perhaps their whole lives to the game, and if they are lucky they will bat an average of 30 percent, which equals an induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. What does this mean in terms of networking?
If you take time to know yourself, focus on your strengths, become a subject expert and provide these positive attributes to your peers, you will hit it out of the park.
Continue to network, stay hungry, stay committed to increasing your value, and all of this will help your relationships and the industry move forward. Do all of this and you'll make it to the parking hall of fame.
Ross Shanken is head of strategic accounts for Smarking, Inc. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.