Are you proposing too soon? Why the rules for dating should apply to new business relationships

As Valentine’s Day 2022 approaches, many may be wondering whether the ‘day of love’ will be the day their partner pops the ultimate question and it’s not completely unreasonable to think so, either.

Here’s a Valentine’s Day fact for you; 10% of all marriage proposals in the UK happen on February 14th. But despite it being a popular occurrence, how many people read the signs all wrong and propose too soon?

There’s no hard and fast rule for the right time to get engaged but dating literature recommends that one to two years is a good length to date before getting engaged.

Interestingly, real life seems to be somewhat different. A recent Facebook Wedding Group poll, 754 people said their partners proposed within six months of dating, 1275 within a year and 2797 responded with answers ranging from 3 months to 15 years.

Whilst these stats go against the advice of dating literature, they clearly demonstrate that people will propose on their terms, whether it’s ‘too soon’ or not.

And interestingly, the same seems to happen with proposals in the business world – the issue here is that going straight in for the ‘yes’ with a new client without ‘dating’ them first just doesn’t cut it.

With the rise of digital networking and the ever-increasing number of ways you can connect with new people, more and more businesspeople are getting it wrong when it comes to relationship building.

From repeated sales messages on LinkedIn, cold phone calls with scripts and going in straight for a sale on the first email to a new contact, some businesspeople are just ‘proposing’ too soon.

With this in mind, Chris Rabbitt, founder of online networking platform meeow, suggests the rules of dating should apply to business relationships too.

Take it easy

Keeping your cards close to your chest is lesson 101 in dating. Nobody wants to be proposed to on a first date and nothing gives you the ‘ick’ more than someone who’s super keen from the get-go. The same goes for business – take your time before going with the hard sell and warm someone up first by building genuine rapport and connection. It can be tempting when you’re really wanting to close a deal – but like with dating, too much too soon can be off putting. 

Know yourself

When it comes to dating, having self-knowledge and self-awareness are key – as this helps you discern what you do and don’t want from a relationship. It puts you in a position of strength, as knowing yourself will guide the kind of relationships you want to have. The same goes for business – if you’ve got a good sense of what your business is all about and values are, it’s easy to network and connect with like-minded individuals. Start by getting clear on what matters to you and your business, your ethos and vision, and this will help guide you in networking with business owners who you connect with on a deeper level. 

Be open to opportunities

When dating, the best thing you can do for yourself is to create as many opportunities as possible – this means going to all the events, parties and spaces where you might connect with other people. The same applies to business – the more opportunities you give yourself, the more chance of creating connections. Networking and dating are really both just a numbers game, but we can easily overlook that when we get caught up in the day-to-day of our lives. How about setting a goal to meet 10 new people this month? 

Keep showing up

In dating, it can be disheartening to have a disappointing date. It can make us close off and not want to keep putting ourselves out there. But don’t let one disappointing experience colour everything – you have to keep showing up and feel optimistic about what’s possible. The same goes for business – you might have been to a few networking sessions in the past which weren’t fruitful, but this isn’t a reason to stop trying. You never know what might happen or who you might meet, so keep on showing your face and believe good things are ahead. 

Buddy up

One of the hardest things about dating is feeling you’re the only person in the world doing it. Well, you’re not! Make the process easier for yourself by making some new single friends who are on the same journey – everyone needs a single tribe to go to events with and laugh together about the not-so-good experiences. The same applies to business, it can be a lonely journey if you don’t have people by your side to support and encourage you. Networking helps you find like-minded people who are on a similar trajectory, who can empathize with you and share in your success. Seek out those people and it will transform your experience of entrepreneurship. 

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