Have you ever spoken to someone in business who says “Oh yes – I tried networking once and it didn’t work for me.”
Over my years in business and having attending hundreds of networking events, I’ve heard this or a similar phrase many, many times. I’ve also been told that business networking doesn’t work for everyone and for a while I reflected on this point to see if I agree and actually, I don’t.
Now if you put it another way and say “not everyone who does business networking makes it work” then that is another matter. Also, “not all types of business networking events work in the same way for everyone” I can agree with that as well.
Whatever your business or profession, networking at some level can and will have a positive impact on you and your business, especially when you do it well.
Over my last 7 years in business, I have been an active member of a business referral group and I have seen numerous members come and go. Frequently I see people in the same business or profession who achieve very contrasting results from their networking activity. Why is this?
I’ve seen business owners leave declaring that networking is rubbish and a waste of time and then someone else has joined to replace them and they get so much business that they happily declare that the group has been their absolutely best source of business and they wish they had joined years earlier.
The difference isn’t their business or necessarily their professional competence. It is however their attitude. The successful Networkers are the ones who commit to and embrace the qualities and values of the group. They focus on helping others first and trust that they will be helped in return. They build trust and respect and because they regularly attend the meetings and support the group and its members, including at social events, they become well-known and definitely well-liked by their colleagues and associates.
When you start with a great positive attitude and add to that tried, tested and proven skills and techniques of rapport building, etiquette and personal communication among others, you dramatically improve your personal effectiveness.
In terms of not all networking events working in the same way for everyone, it really is important to find groups that you feel comfortable in. Networking is a powerful and highly effective way to generate referral business, wherever you do it.
Networking isn’t a quick fix to generate immediate extra business and sales when you suddenly realise that your orders have stopped coming in. Networking isn’t a hard sell ‘close the deal’ approach to business.
Networking is a slower process for cultivating trust and nurturing contacts and connections. Networking is highly effective at generating strong personal and business relationships that will deliver long-term repeat business on recommendation and referral.
Whatever your business is, having other people tell people they know about you and being happy to refer others to you, is a benefit that will leverage your own time and resources. When you add value for and help the people you meet, many of them will help you in turn.
If however, your focus is on a quick return, ‘a fast buck’, what’s in it for me approach, networking will not deliver what you are looking for.
Tony Altham is Business Networking Coach, Trainer and Professional Speaker who specializes in teaching entrepreneurs and professionals how to build powerful relationships that generate long-term profitable business via referral and recommendation.