How much time do you spend in networking activities? Just a little? Too much to even think about? I’ve heard similar kinds of answers from many of my networking contacts. People will roll their eyes and sigh; it seems that the very mention of networking causes them pain.
I can understand the frustration. Networking has exploded and yet it seems that more and more networkers are complaining that their ROT (return on time) is not what they expected. Unrealistic expectations? Perhaps, but I do believe that it is not so much a matter of unrealistic expectations but rather a possibility (probability) that they are not going about it in the right way.
I don’t mean to be presumptuous but I am pretty certain that I know a thing or two about networking – (said with some modesty of course☺ ) and with that being said here are three tips that if followed should provide you with improved results from your networking endeavors:
If there’s one thing that is for certain it’s that you MUST be a proactive networker. Take the lead and make introductions for people because you see potential business synergies. Send a cyber introduction and be certain to explain “why” you are making the connection and explain how you think the two people can benefit each other. Sitting back and waiting for people to ask you for introductions is the wrong approach. It simply takes too long. Introducing two people that can be good referral sources for each other will be a much welcomed introduction. Aim to do several of those EACH DAY.
Time management is key. You can’t begin to attend ALL of the networking events and meetings that are being held so you must carefully consider these parameters:
* Is this a facilitated meeting or an open, “stand around and BS” type of event?” There’s something to be said for both types of networking activities but the big questions are what is your preference and where are you most effective?
* Do you know who will attend this event or meeting? Will the attendees be potential referral sources or clients?
* Does it cost money to attend?
* Does the group have positive WOM (word of mouth)?
Follow-through is Key
Many of the networkers that complain about their lack of results from networking are the very same people that are not efficient with their follow-through. Networking takes time, patience and persistence and you must stay “on the grid” in order for networking relationships to grow to the point that there is a comfort level in making introductions. It can take months or even years for a networkng relationship to generate results and it’s imperative to use the three I’s (introductions, invitations and information) to nurture the connection. (Confused about the 3 I’s? Connect with me and I’m happy to explain in more detail.)
Bottom-line, don’t go about it in a half-baked manner. In order for networking to work you have to throw your heart and soul into it and demonstrate commitment for the long haul. Recognizing results from networking takes time and anyone that is impatient and expects to see results after just a few months is bound to be disappointed.