I’m sick and tired of pushy people at networking meetings. Why can’t they understand that networking is NOT about selling?
“Business people attend networking meetings to get introductions to meaningful people, in particular, prospects. But there are no prospects at networking meetings, only salespeople.” ~ Level 7 Un-Networking
To pushy people, networking is an uncontrollable compulsion to offer services to total strangers (usually other salespeople who are doing the same thing) while ingesting small blocks of cheddar cheese on a five-inch circular foam dish. They focus on asking people to buy their product or service and push a business card into the hand of anyone who will take it rather than take the time for quality relationship building. As a result they think that networking must be “hard sell.” Many are already in “panic” mode because they waited to long to learn the skills required to network and suddenly realize that their business is on a downward spiral – by then, for most, it’s too late.
Because your numbers are down and your boss is on your back is not a good reason to get out there and start networking. If you would have done it right the first time, you would already have enough prospects to sell to. Prospects don’t come to networking groups. People do. People who should be more interested in developing close business relationships rather than viewing a networking group as a room full of prospects.
Networking is not just about schmoozing; it’s not just handing out business cards, selling, marketing or small talk. Those activities are part of networking, but unfortunately, many people’s misunderstanding of the term and it causes them network ineffectively.
Most are what I call, “serial networkers.” They are networking tarts, card collectors, and braggers who seem to be everywhere, networking with everyone. They attend a networking meeting nearly everyday and belong to 3 or 4 groups and wonder why no one gives them referrals. They push people away rather then pull them closer into a relationship that just might work if they would learn why this is happening. They are professional networking wannabees. They want the results and the kudos of the professionals but as yet have not undertaken the education that builds up networking skills.
Let me repeat part of that. They have not undertaken the education that builds up networking skills. They hear about network and dive headlong into the deep end of the networking pool without really knowing what the heck they are doing.
“Networking wannabees turn up for one event and claim that networking is not for them. ‘I tried it once and I didn’t get any business!’ They don’t commit to the necessary building of visibility and credibility. As a result, they should not be surprised when the results of their networking amount to a big fat nothing!” ~ Rob Brown
Perhaps it’s time for you to let go of the past; those things that you have tried when networking but don’t get you the results that you would like. Perhaps it time to focus on re-educating yourself to the ways of networking that really work! Just perhaps.
Here is the truth! If you really want to be successful at networking you must take the time to learn how to do it without pissing everybody off! Opps! Did I just say that? 😉
Learn to build the relationship first, then offer assistance that will gently “pull” others into your network of support. They will want to get to know you better because they see that what you are doing apparently works and they would like some of that. That is what a network is… a network of people who take the time to work to support each other. A successful business network is designed around mutuality. As my friend, Bob Burg says, “Givers get!” That is, I will help you and you help me – and as a result we work closely together to build a strong connection with each other that works mutually to help each other.
How do I know this? As a result of my networking book, “Ten Commitments of Networking,” and my many years of effective networking I am frequently asked to join various networking groups and then I explain that I’m a networking coach and would rather visit the group to teach others what I have learned that makes networking a valuable asset to my business. I am where I am today because of networking. Believe me, it works. If you think you can bypass the learning curve you are mistaken.
Some of you know that I lived in Tulsa, OK for 23 years before moving to Scottsdale in 1995. I have traveled nationally for many years presenting my networking seminar to associations, business groups and Fortune 500 companies. One of the most productive ideas I ever had for the group I formed, “The Tulsa Business Connection,” was to have my group sponsor a city-wide networking training event. We invited every networking group in Tulsa to attend. The fee for this half-day event was low so everyone could afford to be there. It was a great success. It was a great way for “The Tulsa Business Connection” to call attention to itself. Because my group was the sponsor, we received a multitude of newspaper, radio and TV coverage. People were talking about it for months. The productivity of my group alone was phenomenal.
So many groups have meetings, everyone gets a time to do their elevator speech (I call this a 30-second connection), each week a specific member gets 5 or ten minutes to talk about their business, they exchange business cards, everyone hangs out for a few minutes after the meeting and everyone splits. There is seldom any genuine focus on teaching people the correct way to make networking work. I am of the opinion that networking education should be one of the groups highest priorities.
What say you?
Copyright © 2012 – Larry James. Adapted from Larry’s latest book, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. 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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