The person who made it networks in the same areas as me and I can think of several people immediately who operate in the same market as he does. He is a sole trader providing consultancy to the larger end of the SME market ...
It is a fairly typical profile of someone who attends network groups; however, the remark is also a common complaint. So what's the real reason all these consultants are not recognising each other?
They all go networking, but the one thing they don't do is give a good description of their ideal client. They also rarely share who their existing clients are.
I can understand that where there are confidentiality issues, but otherwise, why not? Sharing your testimonials and naming the customers you work with enhances your credibility and that makes you more referable.
Secondly, of course, they might not be asking questions to find out who the other people in the room know. If the information is not volunteered then the assumption is that it doesn't exist.
Whilst with typical English reticence we might not ask outright "who are your clients?" how about asking "who are your ideal clients?" or just "who do you want to meet?".
Just maybe you could be first off the block and find a referral for them. That's a powerful motivator for someone to share further information with you and to want to reciprocate.
I think there is also a third reason though. They already believe that the people networking with them don't know the sort of people they want to meet. I think it is more common amongst those who have come out of a corporate background and find themselves in a room full of small business people.
Then they reinforce that belief by focusing on those in the room who don't have contacts in larger companies. How lovely to maintain your status by saying to yourself "See? I knew networking was a waste of my time! I'm used to operating at a far higher level". If you think that is unfair, just listen carefully to what people say to you when explaining their reasons for not networking.
At this point, I do have to mention that sometimes it is true for a particular group that there is no-one in the room who works with your type of client. I certainly advocate checking out the membership of any group before joining. However, do it with a broad and open mind.
Research a bit of the background of the members and ask questions. LinkedIn is perfect for that! You may get a surprise when you find out that the multi-level networker you have been writing off as a 'hobby business' used to be the PA to the Chairman of Acme PLC.
The last reason why you are not getting business from your network is that others don't know how to refer you and don't care enough about you to bother to find out.
Work on your networking skills and be humble enough to learn from others operating in the same milieu as you. They may have never been a big cheese in a large organisation, but my goodness, if they've survived a few years in a small business they are made of the right stuff.
Before any of my wonderful, kind, generous, warm-hearted fellow networkers think I'm picking on them, I'd like to pay tribute to the multitude of people who helped me learn how to play this game. They range from those who have always worked in small businesses to those who like me left the rat race behind them.
Thanks folks! Now, who do you want to meet?
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.