By Claudia Gurr – Events & Membership Manager
Networking is one of the most effective business development activities you do. That’s when it’s done purposefully and strategically.
Some people see networking as a tick-box exercise. By simply going to an event will result in new business. No!
Like any aspect of your business, the more you put into it, the better the results will be.
This doesn’t mean spending hours networking every single day. Nor does it mean chucking hundreds of pounds at different events and memberships and hoping for the best.
Work smarter not harder.
If you’re scratching your head wondering why you’re not getting the returns you’d hoped for from networking, there may be some things to work on.
Here are 5 common reasons why your networking might not be working for you:
1. You have unrealistic goals (or none at all)
What are you trying to achieve from your networking?
If you go in with the mindset of “I want to sign up 5 new clients within this one event” , I’m afraid to say you will be bitterly disappointed. Even thinking you’ll gain a new client at all from attending one event will result in disappointment.
Networking is about creating new opportunities, sharing ideas, but most importantly, helping others. Please, please, please do not see it as a place to sell. .
Think of networking like gardening. It’s about planting the seed and nurturing the shoots (relationships). The flowers (sales) will come in time.
2. You don’t have a networking strategy
When I say strategy, I don’t mean a structured plan or document. Although that would definitely help. I mean how you approach an event.
Aimlessly tipping-up 10 minutes late. Not having a clue who else is in the room. Not understanding who you’d like to meet. These will all lead to disappointment too I’m afraid to say.
Plan your time either side of an event accordingly. ALWAYS check out the delegate-list beforehand and make a note of anyone you’d like an introduction to.
Know which types of industries/people are often good at referring business to you and also who you can typically refer business to. Make a conscious effort to connect with these people.
Remember to put others first. Always think ‘how can I help this person’. It’s true what they say; what goes around, comes around.
3. People don’t properly understand what you do
For people to refer their friends or clients to you, they have to like know, like and trust you. But they also have to understand what you do and problems you solve.
Don’t fall into the trap of spewing heaps of jargon and industry-specific lingo.
This may position you as an expert amongst your competition, but when speaking with people from outside of your industry you may risk alienating them and cause a disconnect if they don’t fully understand what you do in simple terms.
As Einstein said: “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.”
Make sure you can convey what you do clearly and concisely and be able to address the problems your service or product can help with. Give relatable or recent real life examples if you can.
4. You aren’t following-up properly
This bit is really important. The fruits are in the follow-up. So, what is your follow-up process?
If you’re sending an email or Linkedin message with generic paragraphs about your service, you’re probably doing more harm than good.
After you’ve spoken with someone, make sure you share details and connect via LinkedIn. You could include something from your conversation to trigger their memory. Remind them how you can help people but more importantly ask them how you could help them.
If you think there could be potential for collaboration or business referrals arrange a 1-1 call or meeting to discuss further.
5. You aren’t utilising all benefits
With some groups (such as Network My Club) you have access to additional benefits. Make sure you are making the most of these!
Pro-actively send content to the relevant person. Be brave. Shout about what you’re doing. Share good news, industry insights and offers.
Broaden your horizons. Take advantage of being able to attend multiple events in different areas if applicable. Ask for introductions. Don’t be afraid to ask to be connected with specific people.
For more networking hints, tips and cheat sheets, download our free networking toolkit here