With all the demands on our time made by your business, professional and personal lives, it is very tempting to assign a lower priority to networking activities. After all, we have so many commitments at the office and at home – to colleagues, family and friends – that it is difficult to set aside extra time to bring even more people into our lives.
This thinking would be wrong, however, on two levels. For one, we are constantly being introduced to new people anyway, every day, with no disruption to our schedules, like at the grocery store, the dentist office, your child’s school activity, or in a restaurant.
Second, I read a study once that estimated the average person knows about 250 people. And each of those people knows, in turn, another 250 or so people. This means that for each new person you meet, you gain access to a potential pool of 62,500 people separated from you by just two degrees! Imagine the odds, then, that out of so many people, you would NOT find one person who would be a source of information about a better job, additional clients or customers, a speaking engagement, writing assignment, an investment opportunity, where to shop for better value, and much more. In all likelihood, you would find many more than just one.
In addition, when working with my clients I have found that when done right, networking can help make connections, land a job and generate business 50% of the time. What lead generation tool do you have that will give you this type of return for your efforts?
So now that I’ve established it is WORTH your time, why then do we sometimes feel it is a waste of our time?
Most people go to networking events with high hopes that are often unrealized. Some of the common reasons this takes place are:
- No method in place to create conversations that will naturally form connections – fearful or unsure what to say or saying too much and not listening and engaging.
- Focused on selling versus building relationships – Selling and networking are two different activities! If you try to sell before you establish a need for your services, you will miss out on not only that potential client but also others they may know. You must work to build “sincere” relationships first.
- Comfort Zone – sitting with only those you know, talking to only those you know, not willing to try to reach out or speak up and introduce yourself. Not willing to ask for help and learn networking skills.
- Not having a plan with clear measurements of success for your efforts. How often do you work on projects in your job or business without a clear target of what you are trying to achieve? I would imagine not too often. Yet, most people will show up and not have a goal of what they want to achieve. (i.e. meet 3 people, talk to 10 people, find a new vendor for my client). So it’s no wonder you leave feeling like it was a waste of time, because you didn’t plan how would use the time.
- Poor Follow Through! Just imagine that you went to all the effort to go to the event, meet new people, even ask to contact them – and you don’t. Actually, this is not too far-fetched. On average, most people will fail to follow up within the golden time and sometimes not at all.
So, what’s the resolve to making your networking time worthwhile?
Knowledge and Action! Learn networking skills that include follow up methods to help you build “relationships”. Then, practice consistently what you learn and reap the rewards of repeat business. If you, in turn, refer business as well, the cycle continues its positve momentum.
Here is how you can do just that!
**Take advantage of my FAST TRACK – Networking and Follow Up Skills – Coaching Module! Click here to learn more.