Do you consider networking to be a distinct and separate activity – like an item on your “to-do” list? Hmmm. Perhaps that could be part of the problem.
Networking should not be a separate “to-do” item. To work, you must make networking an integral part of your day-to-day activities.
“I don’t have time to network!” I hear this comment mostly from people who have not had any training and who do not know that networking to work, takes time. It takes time because building solid business relationships takes time. It doesn’t happen after attending a meeting or two. Networking is about relationships.
Others who say this are equally untrained and think that networking is about “getting” business referrals. While getting business referrals is part of networking, for people to like you and trust you enough to “give” you a business referral they need to know you, what you do and what you need.
Attending huge networking events, pushing your business card in someone’s hand (whether they asked for it or not) and asking for their business can only be a waste of your time. My experience tells me that using such an aggressive approach will certainly turn more people off than on. It can surely cause you to consider networking a waste of time because networking doesn’t work that way. So you justify quitting and say “I don’t have time” because what you were doing was indeed a waste of time.
People network all the time. It is not necessary to carve out extra time for networking. It should be your modus operandi for success in business and in life! Successful networking doesn’t happen by accident. For some, networking is intuitive, but most of us have to learn how to be successful at it and utilize our network constructively.
If no one has told you how networking works, then it’s time to get busy and ask questions of those who are successful at it and learn everything you can about how to utilize your time effectively.
There are basically two ways to network. One is by attending large events and two, by being committed to a smaller group of people who meet every week to network. For best results, I recommend the latter.
Large groups are for when you have an extra hour or two to attend, socialize and talk with your friends. Very little networking occurs except perhaps in the follow-up after the event. However, collecting business cards and not following up is another waste of time.
I favor the smaller groups of 40 to 65 people, who meet weekly and have rules (or bylaws) to hold networkers accountable for attendance and for bringing business referrals to others in the group. I also prefer breakfast (get a fresh start on the day) or lunch meetings. They are, in my opinion, worth much more than the time you invest to because an integral part of the group. Someone who is integral is very important or necessary. That’s you! If you are an integral part of the group, it means that the group cannot fully function without you. So, that means that you must make no excuses for missing a meeting. Put it on your schedule and never miss a meeting. If you are attending more than one networking meeting every week you are wasting your time!
Others who use the excuse, “I don’t have time to network,” are often those who become weary trying to cram 4 or five networking meetings (sometimes, breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings) into their weekly schedule. Even I don’t have time for that! This is never a good strategy. I know people who are hopping around town visiting as many networking meetings as possible. Based upon what I know, that strategy is not very productive.
I believe that if you choose one – only one – active networking meeting to attend every week and do everything you can to discover the needs of the members – really get to know them – and be loyal to the same group, then things will begin to happen the likes of which you have not experienced before.
So… in truth, you do have time when you use it effectively! You never have time to do the things you do not want to do!
BONUS Articles: How Many Networking Groups Should You Join?
Networking Events Are a Waste of Time – Unless You Attend Strategically
Don’t Have Time for Business Networking?
You’re Busy! No Time for Networking?
Every Hour You Network Has an Opportunity Cost
Evaluate Your Business Networking Group
Save Time Networking: Focus on Your Gold Dust
Copyright © 2015 – 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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