Recently I conducted a survey of “former members” of networking groups. I personally spoke with about 89 people who once belonged to business networking groups but eventually dropped out.
I wanted to know why they dropped out and how much time they dedicated to actually looking for qualified business referrals for others in the group?
Sadly, I was not surprised. Networking only works for those who “give” business referrals to others. Once you become known for giving, that’s when other members will trust you enough to begin giving qualified business referrals to you.
I also asked how many members they invited to join their groups. Only 2 out of 89 said they had. It’s no wonder the others didn’t want to share their group with their friends. It’s impossible to get excited about your group when you think it isn’t working. They blamed the group, but I pointed out that the person they should blame is the one that looks back at them in the mirror every morning.
Another question was, “Did you note the meeting day and time on your weekly schedule?” and “Out of 10 meetings, on average, how many did you miss?” These answers were also disappointing. I believe that many times it’s better to schedule your business appointment with your client around the day and time of your networking meeting! (Do I hear a few groans?) For me, if that was not possible, my next suggestion was to invite them to my networking meeting and get together with them after the meeting. I also believe it is important for your business clients and customers to get a better picture of who you are, what you do to attract new business and that when you make a commitment to attend a networking meeting, you do everything possible to keep your commitment. Along the way, I actually recruited a few new members that way.
You may notice that I seldom talk about business leads anymore. Business leads often come as a last minute effort to give a lead at the meeting because the member forgot to focus on looking for leads for other members until the last minute. They are casual or random referrals. It’s usually just a name and maybe a phone number with no previous contact… just a name. It’s like a cold call. These leads are usually “time-wasters!” If you mention the person’s name that it came from, they may or may not know them. These kind of referrals are pretty much worthless, low quality and rarily work out.
That is another reason networkers drop out!
Networking members must learn to collaborate with other members. Make time to visit other members outside of the meetings to get to know them better.
Smart networkers schedule time to arrive early and stay later at networking meetings and events. The benefits to being early include exchanging business referrals with other members, getting to know them better, discussing new ideas, scheduling a breakfast or lunch with another member and much more. I like to stay late to have the opportunity to introduce myself to those who were attending the meeting for the first time and – if they were someone I saw as a good connection – I might even set up a time to get together outside of the meeting. Your primary intent should be to solidify business relationships with other members. Arriving early and staying late demonstrates the value you place on your time and the time of others.
For those who say, “Better late than never,” I say… “Better never late!”
I understand that there are times when being late is unavoidable, and I also understand that if being late is a consistent problem, being aware of the problem will help you look for and implement a solution.
BONUS Articles: “Qualified” Referrals – The Currency of Successful Connections!
Demonstrate Your Commitment to Networking ~ Here’s How
How Much Time Do You Spend Looking for Referrals For Others?
A Networking Referral Unraveled
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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