Networking Skills: Has Your Pond Dried Up?

During a recent conversation over breakfast, my networking partner said, ''I'm thinking of changing my networking group Jacky. The first year I got lots of business and now I get hardly any at all. It's dried up'' ...

He was right of course. It is time to review what is happening, but not necessarily time to move on. After all, unless he examines the cause, he is likely to repeat the same mistakes.

"Here are some of the reasons this may happen. Some of them of his making, but not always!"

Where to start? Well, let's start where he was coming from. "The group is wrong for me, I'm hard to to refer." Well if he got work the first year then at that time the group wasn't finding it hard to refer him, was it?

So, what's different about the group now? Has the dynamic in the group changed? Every networking group has its own energy and atmosphere which is generated by the people in the room. No matter what the format is, the result will depend on the chemistry between this particular mix of people.

So, have key people left? Is the group being led by a different person or people? Have new members arrived with a different agenda or emphasis? Not everyone goes networking to give referrals.

This brings me to the second point about the group dynamic. Maybe it hasn't changed, but he had never realised it. It turned out that the referrals he was receiving were not referrals at all, they were sales. He spent the first year selling to the room and members bought from him. By the second year, he had exhausted the supply of members who needed or wanted his services.

I'll come back to how his own behaviour contributed to that, but first, let's look at the culture of this particular group. Is the same happening for most other people in that group? Has the group got an internal economy such as sales between members is the primary expectation of this group? For members of this group, people started buying his services. This is quite normal and sensible for established members, who may try you out first before referring you.

An externally focused group will then begin introductions to their wider network. So, when assessing a group, notice if the flow of business around other members is wider than just buying from each other.

"Now, if others are getting external referrals and you're not, it's time to examine your own behaviour!"

Let's start with the most obvious reason: others have tried you out. Were they thrilled with your service? Did they get the results they wanted and expected? Did you treat them as your best clients and go the extra mile to give them a great experience? How do you know?

Secondly, are you introducing them to people you know? Nothing will motivate people to give more than when you gave to them first. So, go through the membership of the group and look at how often you have introduced them to their ideal clients. If you haven't then now would be a good time to start.

Even when you and the others in the group want to refer to each other, there is a myriad of reasons why it just doesn't happen. Much too much for a single blog post ... so invest in your own education to find out what is making your networking group (your pond) dry up.

"It may not be what you think it is!"

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If you'd like to learn more about referral marketing then do give me a call on 07970 638857 and let's have a chat and see how I can help you.