Build Your Network: Take The Initiative
Networking! Huh ...
Posted by Jacky Sherman on 22/02/2023 @ 8:00AM
How many times have I heard the phrase, “Networking! Huh! What a waste of time. I never got any referrals” when speaking to business owners? The next common complaint is usually, "I went networking once and no one was interested in what I had to offer”. There are many more ...
If you find yourself frustrated with your experience of formal networking then look first at yourself!
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These include, "50 people in the room and I never got a single sale" or, "They talked about 1-to-1 meetings, but no one asked to meet with me" and finally, "Networking! Huh! I had a meeting with a couple of members, but they never followed up".
Over the years I've heard all of these, and many similar comments, about formal networking groups. Now, all of the above do happen and cause people lots of frustration. They have one thing in common though: they are all about this individual waiting for someone else to do something.
When we turn this around and ask my disgruntled respondents some questions about their own approach, it can be enlightening and suggest possible solutions!
"No Referrals at all?", I ask. "So, how many referrals did you give?" Not all, but a large percentage of those who had received no referrals hadn't given any either.
There was a sense that they believe they just pitch up and do a 45-second presentation and work will materialise. Put yourself in the other members' shoes. Here's this new guy or girl pitching up. Members don't know them or how long they are going to keep coming. They don't seem to be offering anything to the group. So, members wait a while to suss them out.
Also, someone has to start the ball rolling and as you're the one who is looking for new referral sources then that someone is you. The best way to get referrals is to give them and this means getting to know each other and feeling confident in introducing this new member to your personal network.
"So, you went once; what did the other people
in the room have to offer you?"
The first time people go to a group others are interested in what they have to offer. However, they expect the same respect back from you and will move on quite rapidly if you metaphorically (or actually) pin them to the wall with a tirade about the features and benefits of your offering.
Getting to know someone is about having a conversation and showing that you are interested in helping them as well as having something interesting to add to the group. Oh, and you need to pitch up more than once to make an impact!
"No one bought from you; did you go
networking in order to buy?"
Complaints about not making any quick direct sales in the room are common. Networking group meetings are about getting to know other members, learning about their products and identifying opportunities for them.
Inhouse sales do occur and many members will try your offering themselves before referring you on. So, have something small that gives them good value for a small outlay that they can try out themselves.
Many group members will have such an offering, so once again take the initiative and test out their services. I give one word of caution here. Budget this and choose members where you believe you would be able to help them with this extra knowledge or where you really could benefit from what they are offering.
"Did you approach anyone to arrange a 1-to-1?"
Probably the hardest thing to do as a newcomer, but let's be honest, if you're going to build a relationship you have to invest your time in the other person. Chances are, if you've committed to the topics above then people will want to spend time with you too. The point of these meetings is to get to know each other better and again share the time together evenly.
"How did you follow up on your meetings?"
Again don't wait for the other person to take the lead in coming back to you. The best will do so, but if you want to take this relationship forward be prepared to be the one who takes the lead. The best tip I can give you is to finish your 1-to-1 with an agreement of something you will do for them and something they can do for you and lastly the timescale for that to happen.
In summary, if you find yourself frustrated with your experience of formal networking then look first at yourself. What are you expecting from others? Then take the initiative and do that yourself. You may be surprised at how often that can change your results!
Of course, there are lots of other reasons you may not be getting the results you want, and I'm always happy to talk you through your networking strategy and practice and tease out what you can do differently.
Until next time ...
Would you like to know more?
If anything I've written in this blog post resonates with you and you'd like to discover more about building your network, it may be a great idea to give me a call on 07970 638857. Let's have an initial chat over a coffee and see how I can help.
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