Networking In An Effective Way

networking in an effective way is smartIt has been said that networking with strangers can be seen as wasting your time. Effective networking is all about building relationships so start slowly and work up. Why? A friend of mine was complaining, “I’m doing 2-3 networking events a week – and I’m worn out.” I then asked why they felt doing so much networking was important and they replied, “One of my marketing goals is to do at least 1 networking event a week.” I then told them that their goal was just 1 each week, so why do more than that? The point is to build business relationships and gain trust. This means less is better, rather than the “do as much networking as you can” belief of many.

The Effective Networking Myths And Truths

Myth 1: The more you network, the more effective your networking activity becomes.

Truth 1: It’s a lot more important to be well-known in 1-2 rather than several more groups. You can be spreading yourself “too thin” and building relationships is a hard task in this case. Don’t forget that networking is all about building relationships with people. This is why you get more from LESS! It’s easier to form relationships with people you see regularly.

I asked my friend how the networking was going. “I don’t think I have had any business out of it for at least the last six months” was the reply. They then went on “but everyone knows that you build a business by networking!” Is it REALLY serving a purpose with NO business is at least six months? I doubt it!

Let’s look at a typical networking example and see if it resonates with you:

You meet someone new and you introduce yourself and ask what they do (30 seconds). They answer you by muttering something about law as you’re checking them out. They ask you what you do, and you tell them. Because neither of you are at all interested in the activities of the other, you stare blankly at each other for a few seconds before stating you need a “refill”.

Myth 2: The cocktails and “nibbles” circuit is the way to network to success

effective networking is not about cocktails and nibblesTruth 2: Networking with total strangers to build business is as effective as going to a bar to get married. How likely is that to happen – not very!

Effective Networking Takes More Time!

You’re not going to meet a business “soul mate” at your first networking event and here’s why:

  1. Would you do business with someone after meeting them for the first time and getting handed a poorly printed card. You only spoke to them for a minute or two, so why would you do business with that person?
  2. Business is built on relationships and not a few well spoken words, no matter how effective they are.
  3. Many of us have problems in explaining what we do, especially when inexperienced in this type of event. Then there’s the added skill of actually listening for what prospects need.
  4. Networking with strangers is not as targeted or specific as you want. In fact, it can be completely random. In many cases, networking is as effective as cold calling, which is among the least effective marketing tools there is.

Is networking, therefore, a waste of time? Absolutely not!

Effective Networking Requires A Smarter Approach

Here are a few pointers for you to think about:

  • You can network effectively over coffee or lunch with people one on one. Get to know them and their business. They may become a prospect, alliance partner, or referral source. But aim first and foremost to build trust and a business relationship. The rest will follow naturally.
  • If you prefer to network with strangers, make sure to go with the goal of making 2-3 lunch or coffee appointments with people you find interesting.
  • You can ask every happy customer you have (because they are all happy, right?) for a referral. Ideally someone interested in your goods or services. You can call and use the referrer’s name like this:
    “Hi I’m Joe from (company name) and George said I should call. Isn’t George a great guy?”) You already have one thing in common – George!
  • Write out a list of businesses or people you want to network with who fit into your target market. If you sell software, you may want to meet IT managers at medium-size companies. Compile this list and put it in your little black book or PDA. Focus your attention on reaching out to only those people – or people who can refer you to somebody in that field.
  • Join groups outside of your business and spend time doing non-business activities. These can be in civic, social, religious, recreational, musical, athletic groups – the list is endless! Build relationships with people in your particular group. A person in your group may be looking for a rewire for their house and you’re an electrician. Being the only electrician in the group, you’re introduced to the person in question. You get the job and the client is delighted! Do you think you can build up a reputation quickly this way? You bet you can!
  • So you go to a “standard” networking event with your target in mind. Your goal might be “to meet three people on my target list, so get their business card so I can follow up for breakfast, lunch, coffee or a round of golf.” A traditional “networking event” now becomes simply the first phase of your overall strategy, not an end in itself.

Effective Networking Is Done With People Who Know You, Like You, Or Have Done Business With You.

effective networking builds trustMyth 3: Networking is about getting more people to know what you do.

Truth 3: Networking is about getting people who already know you to share opportunities where you can be helpful to each other.

You can make 2-3 phone calls a day to connect with people from past jobs, former clients, or influential people who have expressed interest in you and your service in the past.

We all have a “fan base” that we don’t take advantage of.

Get in touch with friends, colleagues, mentors, and family to mine the connections you already have at your fingertips.

Get out there and start the process of effective networking. Make it worth your investment of time and energy by networking the smart way.

Barrie

28 Responses to Networking In An Effective Way

  • Hi Barry

    Reading this post has made me realize that my mindset of Networking is all wrong. I am aware that building a Network entails trust but you showed that taking your time to build relationship is better than rushing things and losing energy.

    Thanks for this post. Take care

    [Reply]

    Barrie Evans Reply:

    Thanks Ikechi

    [Reply]

  • Hi Barrie,

    Great tips for networking you have given here. We do have to be networking all the time, but in a smart way. When people ask me what I do I give them the “cocktail” information. Then, and only then, if they want to know more, I’ll give them the entire meal lol.

    Usually if they are really interested, they come to me. The last thing I ever want to do is chase people down.

    -Donna

    [Reply]

    Barrie Evans Reply:

    Thanks Donna. Good to see you here. 😀

    [Reply]

  • Hi Barrie,

    You hit on one of the myths about networking: that you do it to convince the people at an event to become your clients. The truth can actually be very different.

    When we network from a heart-based mindset, we are not trying to turn the people we meet into clients. Instead, we are trying to let them know who you help, and how. we let them know the problem we solve, the people we solve it for, and the results we create. The idea is to describe those three things so clearly that the person we are talking to can immediately think of people they know who have that problem. If that person doesn’t know anyone right now, we will be top of mind when they meet someone with that problem in the future. And because we have described what we do in terms of the results we create for those people, we make it easy for our networking partner to recommend us.

    [Reply]

    Barrie Evans Reply:

    Yes, Rachel. I agree 100% 😀

    [Reply]

  • I agree with you Barrie about the value of networking, as well as your point about building relationships. I also think there are more ways to meet people than traditional networking events. I’ve always been active in my community, serving on non-profit boards, speaking to service groups and participating in various fundraisers. For me, this has been a super way to network that is not only productive but helped to build my reputation. I’m also a big believer in developing long-term relationships and stay in touch with people I’ve met. I remember one extremely lucrative piece of business I scored from a buyer I’d met 3 years earlier. We’d stayed in touch, chatted at industry events and then when the opportunity came up he called me with the business. This is the stuff I find really fun about sales! 🙂
    Marquita Herald recently posted…Reflections on Redefining StressMy Profile

    [Reply]

    Barrie Evans Reply:

    Proves how effective smart networking can be Marquita. Thank you for your valuable input.

    [Reply]

  • Hi Barrie,

    It’s about time more people understood the truths about networking groups as you have set them out.

    I go regularly to just one meeting (because I’m short of time) but it always amazes me how many “new” members attend once and then we never see them again, presumably because they didn’t “take any orders” at their first meeting.

    Last month, after attending for about a year, I placed an order with a very nice lady who I’ve been chatting to for months. Simply because I didn’t need the product she was offering when I first met her, and the other day I did.

    Hope people will take your advice on board.

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

    [Reply]

    Barrie Evans Reply:

    Yes, building relationships doesn’t happen in one visit. Persistence pays and long lasting customers come from that too.

    [Reply]

  • Hi Barrie,
    Thanks for the tips on networking.
    I just joined my local chamber of commerce and have been invited to a couple of networking breakfasts. Your tips I found very helpful
    “people you want to network with who fit into your target market –
    Compile this list and put it in your little black book –
    Focus your attention on reaching out to only those people”
    I will do that. Thanks so much!

    [Reply]

    Barrie Evans Reply:

    Cool Kathryn. Good luck.

    [Reply]

  • Hi Barrie,

    Best line in this insightful post: “Networking with total strangers to build business is as effective as going to a bar to get married” says it all!
    Edward
    Edward Thorpe recently posted…Best Exercises For People Over 50My Profile

    [Reply]

    Barrie Evans Reply:

    Thanks Ed

    [Reply]

  • Barrie, you make so many great points in this post. I hope the people that really need help will find it.

    I looked up the word networking:

    1. connect as or operate with a network.
    “the stock exchanges have proven to be resourceful in networking these deals”

    2. link (machines, especially computers) to operate interactively.
    “networked workstations”

    3. interact with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one’s career.

    It seems to my from my experience that too many are thinking of networking as in the first definition when they should be thinking of it like in #3, as you so clearly point out in your post.

    Networking is about really connecting with people (getting to know them and their business), seeing if there is a way you can assist each other, and building relationships. Not just making contacts, but building relationships.

    My favorite part of your post is: “They may become a prospect, alliance partner, or referral source. But aim first and foremost to build trust and a business relationship. The rest will follow naturally.”

    Great words of wisdom, Barrie. Thank you for this post!

    Deborah
    Deborah A. Ten Brink recently posted…Get Your Priorities Straight To Increase Productivity.My Profile

    [Reply]

    Barrie Evans Reply:

    Great addition to the theme with this comment Deborah. Thank you.

    [Reply]

  • Hi Barrie,

    great thoughts on networking. I do attend quite a lot of events. But I makes sure I maximise any leads and business I can get out of them, by following up on all leads, having one to ones and really getting to know the people. I tend to like going back to events where i know the same people. I tend too get lots of referrals this way. Like you say it is important not to spread yourself too thin. i can go to one big event and the leads and contacts I make could last me weeks and months If I follow up properly.

    Thanks for sharing

    Beth
    Beth Hewit recently posted…Accountability AlliesMy Profile

    [Reply]

    Barrie Evans Reply:

    Thanks Beth 😀

    [Reply]

  • Great info here. I think one of the most important things to do in this industry is ‘serve’. once you find how to become valuable and help people, the money seems to follow!

    Matt.

    [Reply]

  • hi Barrie,

    Fantastic post! you have distilled down “networking” so clearly. It makes so much sense.

    People do business with people they like and trust. It is so important to have the right relationship and trust established. The business will automatically follow.

    –Michael

    [Reply]

  • It is important to build a social network, but as you point out, barrie, you also have to be smart about it.

    choose smartly, choose only the most targeted prospects and crowd to hang out with.
    David Merrill recently posted…Udemy vs Teachable | Profit From Your Online CourseMy Profile

    [Reply]

  • Great post, Barrie, and a lot of good tips.
    I think is it really important not to want to sell something.
    People feel this and it will not build trust. I think about how
    I feel myself. If they know and like you, the trust will be built
    over time . networking is important ,the right people will
    stay.
    Great post with lots to think about
    Thank you
    Erika

    [Reply]

  • Hi i am anu .
    nice post

    [Reply]

    Barrie Evans Reply:

    Thanks

    [Reply]

  • Patience Is a virtue. And IT seems Like an important one her. Sorry bout caps, seems my phone is,messed up.
    Thanks for an insightful and excellent post, barrie

    [Reply]

  • Barrie,

    What a relief to read your post. I have been disturbed in the past when I would attend a networking event and have people insist that I need their wonderful product and they ask me if I will come to their phone call or watch their video. They don’t ask me anything about myself. If they did, they might discover that I have already tried their product, that I may actually already have been a distributor (that just happened at my health club the other day). Networking is not about attending an event and “attacking” potential prospects with your wonderful product. networking is a long term process of building relationships, finding out what others have to offer and how you might work together or help each other.

    Dr. Erica
    Dr. Erica Goodstone recently posted…The Immaculate Conception of LoveMy Profile

    [Reply]

  • Hi Barrie,
    amazing post. I am not that good at networking so, there were some new lessons for me.
    thanks for sharing.
    And have a great year ahead.
    Robin Khokhar recently posted…How to do Image Optimization for better SEO?My Profile

    [Reply]

  • Great post, Barrie, and a lot of excellent tips.
    I think is it extremely necessary to not need to sell one thing.
    People feel this and it can not build trust. I think regarding however
    I feel myself. If they know and like you, the trust will be engineered
    over time . networking is important ,the right people can
    stay.

    [Reply]

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