As passionate as I am about word-of-mouth marketing and growing your business through high quality referrals, I have to admit that far too many professionals are wasting their time networking.
Now don’t get me wrong, I believe that networking is essential for anyone in business to be doing, and it is a skill we must all have if we ever truly want to build a consistent flow of referrals coming into our business.
So why do I think most people are wasting their time? Here are just 5 reasons:
- The networking meeting or event is not designed to produce the results they desire. Now there are numerous networking opportunities for us, from social networking events (Chamber after hours etc.), structured networking meetings (BNI), online, service groups, professional organizations, and the list can go on and on. The problem is that most people take the same approach to their networking efforts no matter what type of networking they are doing. They are trying to get the same results despite the dramatic differences in type, and focus of the meeting or event they are attending.
- They have no strategy. It seems to me that most people attend networking events because they had the time and just showed up. They never invest time in actually creating a plan to achieve the goals they say they desire. It is vital to have a strategy for success when networking. You need to know what the event will be like, what the focus is, who could be there, who do you want to meet, how will you meet these people, and what will you say to them?
- They don’t go consistently. As mentioned before, it seems that a lot of people will go networking when they have the “free time” to do so. This means they tend to not be there a lot. They have no consistency in their networking efforts, and without that consistency they have a difficult time building the necessary Business Relationship needed to produce referrals. They may make a lot of “friends” or acquaintances but they never are able to really build the foundation of a strong business relationship where we not only know your name and company name, but we have confidence in you as a professional, and the work you do, as well as know who you are looking for in referrals. Relationships like this take time, but you can degrease the time needed if you attend the same events with someone more consistently.
- They never follow up. So we attend a networking meeting, we meet a lot people, and we collect a lot of business cards. Now what? For most, unfortunately the answer is nothing. They have no system in place to follow up with these people and begin the relationship process. They hope to see each other at the next meeting or event, but then again we just read what happens with that. You need to follow up with the people you meet, and not in an attempt to now sell them something but to show them that you really did enjoy meeting them and that you want to learn how you can help them. Unless of course you didn’t enjoy meeting them then I wouldn’t recommend following up.
- They never learn how to effectively network. We all know we need to network which leads many to believe that they must know how to network. In order to get true results from the time you are investing in networking, you need to make sure you have the skills to accomplish your goal. Read this BLOG about how this relates to other aspects in our lives and how I almost quit something I now love to do.
There are many other reasons why people end up wasting their time networking and I encourage you to watch the 10 FREE Videos I did on the Top 10 Mistakes People Make When Networking.