Work Your Network

Work Your Network

Work Your Network
If you’re networking with strangers, you’re wasting your time .​
a​ consultant friend of​ mine recently complained, I’m doing 2-3 networking events a​ week – and​ I’m worn out .​
When I​ asked why she felt networking was important, she replied, One of​ my marketing goals is​ to​ do at​ least 1 networking event a​ week .​
(I pointed out that she just admitted to​ doing 2-3 a​ week – and​ perhaps doing 1 a​ week is​ smart and​ doing triple that goal is​ causing some of​ the​ fatigue.) But there’s much more to​ the​ great American business myth of​ networking .​
Myth 1: the​ more you network, the​ more effective your networking activities become.
Truth 1: It’s much more important to​ become well-known in​ 1-2 circles than to​ spread your networking activities over many different groups .​
Depth beats breadth every time.
I then asked her how networking was working for​ her .​
She said, I​ don’t think I​ have gotten a​ shred of​ business out of​ it​ in​ the​ last six months .​
Her rationale for​ doing networking: Everybody knows that you build a​ business by networking! Does this make any sense? or​ worse, does it​ sound familiar?
See if​ this networking scenario has happened to​ you:
You meet someone for​ 30 seconds .​
They mumble something about real estate as​ you are tuning them out .​
They ask you what you do, and​ you say you are in​ insurance .​
After 10 seconds of​ staring blankly at​ each other, you both head to​ the​ celery sticks for​ lack of​ anything better to​ do .​
Myth 2: the​ cocktails and​ miniature wiener circuit is​ the​ way to​ network to​ success
Truth 2: Networking with strangers to​ build business is​ about as​ effective as​ going to​ a​ bar to​ get married .​
In the​ words of​ Dr .​
Phil, It simply ain’t gonna happen that way.
Here’s why you’re not going to​ meet your business soul mate at​ a​ networking event:
1) You aren’t going to​ do business with someone after meeting them for​ a​ few minutes and​ getting handed a​ poorly printed card.

2) Businesses are built on relationships and​ not 30-second commercials, no matter how effective and​ intriguing.
3) Most of​ us have major trouble in​ explaining what we do, much less getting past that explanation and​ listening for​ what prospects need.
4) Networking with strangers is​ not targeted or​ specific and​ in​ fact is​ completely random .​
For some people, networking is​ exactly as​ effective as​ cold calling, which is​ the​ least effective marketing tool there is.
So am I​ saying that networking is​ a​ waste of​ time? Absolutely not .​
What I’m saying is​ you need to​ start networking smarter .​
Here are a​ few thoughts to​ jog your noggin:
* Network by having 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​ make them a​ friend .​
The rest will follow naturally.
* if​ you’re going to​ network with strangers, go with the​ goal of​ making 2-3 lunch or​ coffee dates with people you find interesting .​
* Ask every happy customer you have (they’re all happy, right?) for​ just one referral of​ someone who would be interested in​ your type of​ goods or​ services, then call and​ use their name .​
(Hi I’m Fred and​ Ginger said I​ should call you .​
Isn’t Ginger great?) You already have one thing in​ common – Ginger!
* Create a​ network hit list of​ the​ exact kind of​ businesses you want to​ network with – maybe you sell software and​ you want to​ meet IT managers at​ medium-size companies .​
Make the​ list and​ put it​ in​ your little black book or​ PDA .​
Focus your networking and​ outreach activities on only those people – or​ others who can refer you to​ those people.
* Join non-business groups and​ spend time doing non-business activities: Civic, social, religious, recreational, musical, athletic.. .​
the list is​ endless .​
Establish relationships with people in​ your group .​
Perhaps you’re a​ Moose and​ a​ realtor .​
a​ Moose, as​ it​ turns out, wants to​ by a​ house from another Moose .​
If so, you have the​ Moose Market cornered! Are you into hand-drumming .​
Guess what? a​ hand-drummer will want to​ do business with another hand-drummer .​
Get it?
* if​ you do go to​ a​ mixer go with a​ targeted goal in​ mind .​
For example, your goal might be to​ meet three people on my target list and​ get their card so I​ can follow up for​ breakfast, lunch, coffee or​ badminton .​
a​ traditional networking event now becomes simply the​ first phase of​ your targeted plan for​ global domination, and​ not an​ end in​ itself.
Here’s a​ final thought to​ shake up your networking mindset: Network with people who already know you, like you, or​ have done business with you .​
Myth 3: Networking is​ all about getting more people to​ know what you do.
Truth 3: Networking is​ all about getting people that already know you to​ share opportunities where you can be helpful to​ each other.
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 in​ the​ past .​
We all have a​ fan base that we grossly underutilize .​
Think about tapping into friends, colleagues, mentors, and​ family to​ mine the​ connections you already have at​ your fingertips .​
So get out there and​ network – but make it​ worth your investment of​ time and​ energy by networking smart .​
As your mother always said, Don’t network with strangers.

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