Is networking not working for you as well as you would like? Have you ever considered that you may be in the wrong networking group?
Perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate which group works and which ones you should eliminate! If your networking group just isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and if you’re not seeing the results from your networking activities, after you have re-evaluated all aspects of the group and YOUR participation, perhaps you should look for another group.
Evaluate which business networking groups were worthwhile and which were not. Networking is an important way to make new connections with prospective clients, customers, partners, and team members directly, so it should be planned and reviewed carefully. Take out your calendar and flip through the pages. Mark those events as “A” where you met the people you wanted to meet, “B” where you know there is the potential to meet those you wish, and “C” where you won’t return for one reason or another. Share this info with your team and ask them to do the same so you can compare notes. One person’s “B” might be another person’s “A,” so you can learn a lot from sharing this process. ~ Bill Ringle
No networking group is free. If no fee, you must consider your time. However, the fee, if any, to be in the group you’re in should not be a consideration. If you are getting results the cost is irrelevant.
Evaluate who is attending your group. Are they duds or dudes and dudesess? Do they give without expectations? Or, are they there to sell you their product or service? Do they really understand the basics of effective business networking? Do the other members reach out to find out what you need so they can help you. Does the group have outside speakers that will teach you more about networking? Do members attend on a consistent basis? What do they do, if anything, to ensure that all of the members contribute? Are there a variety of businesses represented? Fact: You will always have a few duds in each group, however you will find that they eventually leave the group and blame everyone but themselves.
Networking groups must excite, engage, excite and enrich you. If it doesn’t, you may be wasting your time in the wrong group. Networking should be fun! Are the other member truly motivated? Do they generate lots of networking referrals? It’s smart to connect with like-minded people – people who are savvy networkers. Some groups pass over quality members in favor of how many members they can sign up. Remember, there are no good or bad groups, just the right or wrong groups depending on your goals and your needs. What are your networking objectives? Are they clearly defined? You should be looking for members who are the perfect fit for your business.
Does size matter? I believe it does. Bigger is not always better. My opinion is that you will most likely reap greater rewards from a group of high energy networkers of not more than 30 to 40 members. A small meeting with the right people is better than a huge group with the wrong people. I also believe that you are taking your chances when you visit a mega networking event. There you have the possibility of running into lots of people who are there solely to hock their wares. That’s not networking… that’s selling.
In a smaller group you can watch the action of the members for several months to see who knows what they are doing and then single out the people you want to get to know better. Once you’ve established a relationship with another group member and you are certain that he or she knows you, likes you and trusts you, you can invite that person to coffee of lunch for the express purpose of finding out how you can best help them. I prefer to focus on 1-to-1 meetings with those in my group as opposed to the 1-to-many.
What about you? Are you referring business to them, providing them with information that can help them, brainstorming business building ideas, and more? What are you doing to help your referral partners? Be sure you are doing your part before you decide to leave a group. Make sure that the message you give every week during your 30-second connection is succinct, to the point, and benefits-oriented. Be sure you drop the “what is in it for me?” attitude. Being a member isn’t enough. Showing up to meetings regularly – and I mean “no excuses for not showing up – is a must.
Getting more involved in the group you are already in will get you better visibility and enable you to build stronger relationships with other members quicker. Before joining a new group, make sure you keep in mind your networking objectives for the year and determine whether the new group’s activities and purpose are aligned with your goals.
Remember, networking is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It takes time to build strong relationships. Patience is required. You make a big mistake if you look for immediate gains. Get rid of your expectations and do what needs to be done to make networking work. If you don’t, you may be spinning your wheels.
BONUS Article: How Do I Build My Professional Network?
Copyright © 2012 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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