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The Networker #11: Why Networking is Like Going to The Gym

22 Mar, 2023
Read time: 4 minutes & 39 seconds
    1. Summer is on its way.
    2. Maybe a New Year’s Resolution was to workout more – and you’re still going strong…right? (Virtual pat on back to you if so).
    3. I’ve just relocated to London and in need of a new gym.

There’s 3 reasons to roll out one of my favourite networking analogies.

Today – I’ll dive into how going to the gym is like networking.

Let’s squat jump into it.

​Warning: analogy overload in this edition.

Ask someone why they join the gym.

They’ll likely say:

“To get myself fitter.”

“To get myself stronger.”

“To make myself healthier.”

Now, change ‘myself’ to ‘my business’.

They could be answers if you asked someone why they network.

You get the idea. Hopefully.

So, what do going to the gym and networking have in common?

Healthy Network, Healthy Business

Just like when you are healthy, you feel and operate better.

The same in your business.

And networking and having a healthy network improves the overall health of your business.

New business opportunities is the obvious outcome.

But it can also be from referrals, new connections, friendships, increased brand awareness, ideas and inspiration from others, help and support. I could go on.

All of this increases the health of your business both short and long term.

Networking expands who you know. It opens doors and leads to new opportunities.

Those opportunities lead to a healthier business.

Strong Relationships, Strong Business

Just like bigger and stronger muscles, your relationships require work, effort and consistency.

The strength in your relationships builds over time with networking, if you allow it.

The stronger the relationships, the stronger position your business will be in as you grow an army of advocates, and eventually, clients.

You don’t go to the gym once and are able to lift ultra-heavy weights.

You shouldn’t go networking once and expect new business.

You need to put the reps in.

Improving Business Fitness

People network for many reasons.

New contacts and new business aside, I’ve heard stories of how networkers use networking to learn from others, share business challenges, and grow professionally.

Whether you intend it to or not, networking with an open mindset will present secondary benefits.

Like lifting weights in the gym, you’ll realise it’s also improving your endurance. Or reducing pain in your joints.

In networking, secondary benefits could come in the shape of a recommendation, finding a new hire, or sourcing a new supplier.

Helping your business get fitter.

They are the top line comparisons.

But what about other factors at the gym that contribute to growth and results.

  • Training partners
  • Your diet
  • Personal trainers
  • Joining a membership

What are the networking equivalents?! I hear you ask!

Your Training Partners

Networking can be lonely. You can find your motivation wavering.

Find an ‘accountability networker’.

Like a training partner at the gym.

They help you get more out of your sessions, motivate you, and keep you accountable to the fitness habit or goal you’ve set yourself.

This is what your accountability networker can support you with, and vice versa.

Share your business and networking goals between you. Then hold each other to them.

Think of fellow members in groups you’re part of and familiar with. Or people in industries you pass referrals to and from.

They are your accountability networker in waiting.

Your Networking Diet

Weight loss or muscle gain is the result of 20% exercise, and 80% diet.

The same applies to networking activity at an event, and outside of the event.

Treat your diet in networking terms as what you do before and after an event.

Amateur networkers go to events thinking it starts when they walk through the door, and ends when they walk out.

That’s like going to the gym, doing a couple of sets of weights, leaving, and expecting to be Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Pre and post networking activity are crucial to your networking work.

Think of it as your warm up and cool down.

How are you preparing for event? Have you researched the guest list? Have you warmed conversations up?

What are you doing after events? Are you following up? Connecting on LinkedIn? Setting up 1-1s?

Feed your relationships and conversations from events with the behaviours needed for them to grow.

Personal Trainers

Some need that guidance and support when it comes to training or going to the gym, right?

The same can be true for networking.

View the networking organisations you’re part of as your networking personal trainers.

They should be supporting you to achieve your goals through attending the events and being active in the membership.

This could include facilitating introductions. Or suggesting good people for you to speak to. Or ensuring you’re maximising your membership benefits.

However, they can’t do it all for you.

Just like the gym, you need to show up regularly and do the heavy lifting.

Membership Mentality

Why join a networking group when you can just pay to go along?

You can – if you’re well-disciplined and organised.

Would you go to the gym as much if it meant you doing so off your own back?

I’d say no.

It’s ok. We’re all human.

A membership is another level of accountability.

Yes, there’s a regular cost.

But it could be that kick up the backside you need. Because you know going to the gym is good for you. And you want to make sure you’re getting value for money.

The same with networking. You know it’s good for your business. But things can get in the way. Or you can deprioritise.

Commitment to a membership helps you be more committed and consistent to networking.

And consistent networkers always win.

The Wrap Up

We all know those people that go to the gym a few times and lost motivation because they don’t see results straight away.

I see the same at networking.

Go to an event or two, and say; “I didn’t get anything from that, networking doesn’t work.”

Expert networkers realise it takes time and a long-term focus.

It requires patience, discipline, organisation, consistency, and persistence.

They realise networking isn’t sexy.

Nor is going to the gym. (We’ve all got ‘that’ workout face, right?)

Both require work, effort, and consistency.

But both help you grow, open new doors, and unearth new opportunities.

And both can be enjoyable – with the right mindset and approach.

Now, go and start flexing those networking muscles.

What Is The Networker?

The weekly newsletter for business owners and sales leaders to level up their networking.

1 networking tip, trend or tidbit – every Wednesday morning.

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