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Imagine a group of business owners all keen to use networking to boost their business, get their name out there, and make some really useful contacts. I’m sure you’ve met people like that too.

eggs and bacon

In discussion with them I upset them when I told them to stop wasting their time going to networking groups! It certainly created a lot of “lively” debate.

  • A contact is worth diddly squat
  • Networking groups are not networking
  • Networking is more than meetings
  • How networking groups can damage your expertise

None of them were being honest. They wanted was to turn up and sell their services, but espoused the language of contacts, relationships and networking (without thinking they should have to do more than go to the meetings).

A contact is worth diddly squat

If you’re out there to get useful contacts, you will make contacts. But, when do they become useful? Is it when you recognise them again at another meeting, send them lots of unrequested emails, get work passed to you via them, can phone them up and ask for some help, or something even more powerful?

Networking groups are not networking

So, you sit around the table with these people each week, fortnight or month. You hear several of the prized “one minutes”, you may meet some new visitors, have a chat about elements of your business and then it’s time to head off. OK, some groups also give you time for a couple of one to one meetings in the room – how many of these have you actually achieved your objective from? On the basis that most people I’ve asked don’t have one, it would be hard (or easy).

Networking is more than meetings

A network is more than a collection of contacts; to be valuable it has to be people that you can usefully use to further your objectives. Yes, let’s be honest, if you’re not getting what you want you will not continue!

A good network is built, and networking succeeds, by the application of hard work. Hard work by the way is more than attending meetings. It may be about how much you help the others in your network. It will reflect the efforts you put in to deepen the relationship from being a “sausage sharer” through “equally engaged” to “creative collaborator” and beyond (see the Excedia 5 level model for more thoughts on this). How many brilliantly clever consultants, Accountants, Lawyers and others that you’ve met who say “it didn’t deliver what I wanted”?

How networking groups can damage your expertise

How many of the following have you heard (or done)?

  • I changed my one minute just before standing up as her one sounded really good
  • There was a competitor in the room, so I changed what I said
  • I was tired and couldn’t really be bothered as it’s not working anyway
  • They all know what I do, so I don’t prepare
  • And there are plenty of others…

If you’re not really clear on how you help others, what you’re really good at and how you’re different will the others in the room remember you or your lack of clarity?

If you give a presentation on your subject, but aren’t clear on how it will help the people in the room, what will others remember? If you want some presentation tips, click here or download our guide to improving your presentation skills. it's free and waiting for you right now in our JoinedUp Networking toolkit. This toolkit is a resource library stuffed with goodies to help you get better results from your networking (email address required). Click here to download it.
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What do you think about business networking?

Do you agree that networking can never work unless you’re really working at it and that’s more than just attending meetings? What defines business networking success for you?

 

Written by Jon Baker The 5-50 Coach. I help professionals grow their firms from 5 to 50 employees, sustainably, profitably and still have fun. Networking is a key part of getting great results in small firms. If you want great networking tips sent to your desk once a month, click here and I will start sending them to you, so you can make a real difference to your referrals. 
 

Download  “Rubber Eggs and Curly Canapes”

Download our guide “Improving your presentation skills”, it's free and waiting for you right now in our JoinedUp Networking toolkit. This toolkit is a resource library stuffed with goodies to help you get better results from your networking (email address required). Click here to download it.
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