For quite some time now networking has been all the rage. Meetings occur morning, noon and night. One per category groups, large events in which networkers mill about drinks in hand, seminars that have networking components and all manner of folks declaring that they are rock-star networking giants.
Well, I am here to tell you that I’m not a networking giant, that like everyone else,
I under-perform at times and disappoint myself by not being as responsive as I probably should, and maybe even disappointing some of my fellow networkers because I can’t seem to make as many introductions as they would like.
Truth be told it’s been said that I am a generous and good networker and I must say that I warm to the words and that’s mostly because I work so very hard at it. The good “deeds” that I bring to the table take a lot of work but it is certainly doable for all that dare to do the networking dance.
But who cares about me. Here are some networking rules to live by:
- Networking has to be proactive rather than reactive and the sad news is that most networkers are reactive. So what’s the difference? A reactive networker will most often wait for someone to ask them if they happen to know a (fill in the blank) or if they could introduce someone to a (fill in the blank). They REACT to a specific query and while they mean well it also means that their introductions are slow in coming. Proactive means that the networker introduces people because they know there are synergies. And these synergies can be as follows:
- You introduce two people because even though they are in different businesses they have the very same types of referral sources. This commonality will allow them to make introductions for each other.
- You introduce two people because they are both very active networkers in their own right and you know that by putting them together they will quickly figure out how they can help each other.
- You introduce two people because they are swimming in the same prospect pool. Example:
- People get divorced and use a mediator or matrimonial attorney. The divorce precipitates many needs: new real estate, new accountant, new financial advisor, life coach, therapist, real estate attorney, trusts and estates attorney. They can all help each other when there is this one trigger event. (Of course there are many other trigger events too.)
- Networking has to be reciprocal. Introductions to referral sources, introductions to potential clients, leads to speaking engagements, reciprocal blogging and more are all ways that reciprocity can be shown.
- Follow up and follow through are key. And not just once either. Networking takes time and attention, and if you meet just once, it is quite possible that not enough of a relationship will be born.
- Set personal goals. How many proactive introductions can you make per day, week or month? Make a commitment and a plan to get these introductions implemented.
Being in a networking group (or groups) is nice but it’s merely the first step to turning these connections into relationships that can be mined and nurtured into networking gold.
Anything less and you just might not get the desired ROT (return on time).