Why do you network?
I must admit to being somewhat of a scholar on networking:
- I’ve built my 28 year old business using networking as the key driver for growth.
- I run a networking community comprised of hundreds of members
- I am recognized as a connector, one of those intrepid souls that have no problems making proactive introductions
- I’ve taught networking to various groups and even as part of an Adult Ed program at a local university
So yes, I think I know about networking so hang in here with me:)
Back to my original question: why do you network?
Is your goal to:
- Get leads
- Obtain introductions to potential referral sources
- Build a database of trusted contacts that you can refer to others
- Share war stories and marketing intelligence
- Build collaborative relationships with competitors
I think that it should be for all of these reasons, and by not looking at networking with this wide angle lens, you probably aren’t getting the best ROT (return on time).
Many folks that I know are not good networkers. They’re impatient and want to see results immediately and by results I mean revenue producing business. They don’t see the big picture and hence they migrate from group to group, event to event, hoping for the big hit that will help their business. I’m not saying it can’t happen; of course it can BUT it is more likely that you will need to dig deep, gain trust and be in it for the long haul in order to see any results. If you’re not willing to do that then why do you network?
I’m never so happy as when I can make a great referral to one of my trusted networking resources or introduce two people because they have amazing business synergies. Many of my networking contacts are also my good friends with whom I share war stories and tales of success over meals, drinks or even at the beach. (Networking can occur anywhere, right?!)
So ask yourself what you are getting from your networking endeavors. If it is less than you wish then change things up a bit; broaden your perspective, increase your time frame and jump in a bit deeper. I bet that by doing those things you’ll soon be happier with your results.