By Claudia Gurr – Events & Membership Manager
I’ll be honest…Cue the violin… It’s not uncommon for people to decline invites to our online meetups. I’ve learnt to deal with this. The really frustrating thing is when I find out why they don’t want to attend.
Now, I’m sure you’ve been out for dinner in the past. Perhaps a country pub – and been bitterly disappointed by the luke-warm gravy your roast is swimming in or the screaming kids on the table next to you. Or the lack of attention from the waiting staff, followed by a hefty service charge on the bill (“2/10, would not recommend to a friend”.)
Did this stop you from going out to eat ever again? Of course it didn’t!
Networking is the same. You may have had an unsatisfactory experience before but I promise you, this doesn’t mean you hate all networking (in the same way as you don’t hate all pubs). You just didn’t attend the right event for you.
Some of the objections we’ve heard have even been based on another event they attended OR what they’ve heard other people say about networking in general. We’re not all the same!
Here are the top 5 misconceptions I hear about networking:
1.“I’m honestly just too busy”
If you’re going to see results from your networking, you need to make time for it.
We all lead busy lives. So the idea of committing time to a weekly event I understand. A monthly or bi-weekly event? I’m not so sure. Particularly for something that’s going to help form new relationships, generate referrals and new business opportunities.
Our advice, book your events in your diary at the beginning of each month. Whether that’s online or in person events. Plan around them. For in person events, book a meeting before or after. The beauty of online events means less time travelling.
In the case of our membership, it is company-wide, meaning anyone can attend. So if you really can’t make it, simply delegate it to a colleague.
2.“Everyone just wants to sell to me”
Granted, this is ANNOYING when it happens. Certainly one of my pet-peeves about networking events.
Don’t you just hate it when you clock someone throwing business cards around like fairy dust, or when you notice THAT person that is shoving a sales brochure into everyone’s hands and the earliest opportunity. Ew, just stop!
Fear not. We encourage people to leave the sales spiel at the door. In each pre-event email, we include our top-tips on how to network, and how we expect attendees to conduct themselves.
We won’t put anyone on the naughty step or kick them out. But we will take the time to educate people on the most effective ways to network. To make sure they aren’t ruining their own chances of building relationships, and everyone else’s experience.
3.“I don’t need to network, I have enough clients already”
Ah, this is a classic! If this is true then that’s brilliant. But who wouldn’t want to grow their business? You never know what’s round the corner – as has been spectacularly highlighted this year. It’s always good to keep your name and service in front of people.
Don’t forget networking isn’t solely about getting new clients too. It’s not a sales activity. You may be looking for opportunities for collaboration. People you could help connect your clients to. Keeping in contact with current referral partners. Research tasks or even getting sponsorship for that charity sky-dive you’re doing (you little dare devil!).
4.“It’s only ‘one-man bands and sales reps’ that go networking”
Firstly, depending on the events you pick, this may well be the case. But we’ll save that for my next point.
Secondly, if you have the right mindset to networking, you’d be open to having a conversation with everyone in the room regardless of the business size or industry. You never know who they know and how they could help.
With this being a stigma attached to business networking, we focus on inviting decision makers. This is what is going to make those conversations at events help achieve your objectives to networking (as mentioned in the previous point).
Our membership model means we attract businesses with a budget. Those with the mentality of investing in their networking. If you’re finding the attendees aren’t at the level you want, you’re probably picking the wrong events.
Which leads nicely into my last misconception…
5.“I’m not going to pay for networking events/membership when there are free ones out there”
We’re not in a race to the bottom when it comes to price. We know our value and what you get in return for your investment. Ultimately when it comes to networking (and anything in life really), you get what you pay for.
Our commitment to you as a member is to help you achieve your networking objectives. To deliver valuable events and provide the support needed to help your business. Yes, this is our full time “proper” job. We’re not a company that does coffee mornings as a bit of a side-hustle.
I could go on and on with this point, but our Founder and MD, Bradley, covered it in a lot more detail in his blog on why pay to go networking.
We’re more than just a networking event. The strength of our membership dictates the strength of our business. This is why we’re dedicated to breaking down these stigmas associated with networking. To make it something you want to do, rather than feel like you have to.
So we feel your pain, we know your concerns, we’ve heard them. Come and give it a go. We invite you to try out an event or two before joining. Or if you’re feeling really proactive, join us and let’s get you started on your journey as part of the Network My Club family.