Over the years I have discovered that you need to carefully measure the value of the time you spend networking. I have come to believe that business networking is not for everyone, especially those who have never spent the time to learn the intricacies or complexities of networking.
Those are the people who spend many hours at as many networking meetings they can cram into a week, but seldom ever walk away satisfied that they may have met anyone worth pursuing a closer business relationship with, mostly because they were more interested in making a sale than developing a relationship.
“Always be on the look-out for the right people – those who understand the fundamental reciprocal element of networking, who are helpful, genuinely interested in others and really want to get to know you.” ~ Ute Wieczorek-King
It’s important to select the right networking groups for you to spend your time with. Not all networking groups are worth your time. A lot of networking events either just aren’t a good fit for you personally or they are flat out time wasters all the way around, offering nothing of value to anyone who attends. Be selective when attending networking events. Some events can offer a lot, but you have to make sure they don’t become a way for you to avoid doing more important tasks. By the way, the fees you pay to the group or event is meaningless; it’s the people who count!
Select a networking time slot that works best with your business and life style. Forcing yourself to attend breakfast events when you are not a “morning person” means that you will be resentful every step of the way. There’s no need to do that because there are plenty of afternoon and evening events from which to choose.
Here are two red flags:
1. If there are the same people in your group and the group seldom has new members.
2. If the people in your group have become complacent and rarely ever recruit new members.
Odds are the group has become stagnant. A groups collective action will tell you everything you need to know. Solution: Consider moving on. Networking is about relationships. If you already have close business relationships with the members of your group and there are no new relationships to make, I would try to instigate a “recruit new members” campaign. If that didn’t work, I would move on and – as best I can – maintain the relationships I have and reach out to make new ones somewhere else. Be sure people really get what you do and what kind of referrals you are looking for. The only problem with that is you may have to work extra hard to maintain the relationships. “Out of sight, out of mind” then comes into play.
It’s also very important that you use only the networking techniques that work. People who tire from networking are usually making a lot of tactical mistakes. Look for the movers and shakers within the group. They are energized because it’s working for them. Talk to them. Learn their secrets. They are neither bored or burned-out.
What’s the latest buzz within the group. Talk to its members. Ask lots of questions to determine if the group is a good fit for you. If you have you been attending the same networking events over and over with not much to show for it… that should tell you something.
“Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time!” ~ Jim Rohn
It’s easy to get frustrated when you’ve been networking for some time but you‘re not receiving any referrals. Some people are either too lazy or way too busy to provide referrals. Or they are just not that interested in you and instead see you mainly as a potential customer – sadly, these people just don’t get networking.
It’s so exciting to get introduced to a new contact, especially when the referrer has told them so much about you. They already know you’re the right person to help. This just happened today. A woman who is in the wedding business in Canada found me on Facebook several weeks ago. She’s been following my Facebook wedding page and Blog. One of her best friends who is a wedding photographer recently moved to Scottsdale. She sent me a copy of the e-mail she sent to her friend to tell her about me. WoW! When I followed up with her friend this afternoon, it was easy to arrange a time to get together to get acquainted. We both felt like we already knew each other.
Networking should be FUN! If it’s not being fun for you, about every six months take a step back and review your groups, the strategies and tactics you are using, timing, and more. Evaluate and quantify your results. Weed out the groups that are a waste of time.
One last caveat: Be sure YOU are first giving back to the group before you say it’s the wrong group. If you are only in it for what you can get… you are networking for the wrong reason!
Copyright © 2014 – 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 Networking 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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