Building a relationship with a business partner or new client takes time and patience. I like to say that whether you are pitching a service to someone or trying to find a partner with whom to collaborate, that you need at least five interactions with that person before they will be ready to really listen to you.

I say five, but I have friends that insist that this number is more realistically seven. Think about that for a moment–five to seven encounters with a person before you pitch to them. People need to be playing the long game, or run the risk of irritating your new contact or losing the potential to generate future business. There are contacts that are simply happy to make your acquaintance and want to be supportive of your work.

A typical encounter might go like this: you just meet someone on Twitter, at a networking event, or a conference, and you have the urge to tell them what you are doing and what you can do for them. Many people will jump right into their sales pitch, especially on Twitter. Please use restraint, because at that moment, many people don’t have the time or interest to think about how you could possibly work with them.

Instead, take the time to develop a conversation with your new contact and see where this will lead you. Try to serve as a resource. In time, you may find that your relationship may turn into a business opportunity, or it may not.

It takes time to build trust and to get to know others. Not everyone is looking for a business relationship and they’d prefer to just maintain their distance until they are ready to engage. Keep that in mind as you are networking and you may find that by giving people space to think after you meet them, you will encourage more interaction down the road. This is counter-intuitive, but it works.

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