In the 14 years that I have been networking and organising networking events one of the things I hear more times than I can shake a stick at is “I tried networking but it didn’t work for me”. Often, when I dig a little deeper, it turns out that by “tried networking” the person making this claim only went to a handful of meetings or less. I have even heard people say this having only attended one networking meeting, as if they were expecting to walk through the door and have people throw themselves at them, begging for their help!
I recently was honoured to celebrate Maria Foxwell’s 10 year anniversary as a member of WMB and if ever there was an example of getting out what you put in it’s this wonderful lady! Maria, who is a Travel Counsellor, decided to make a commitment to networking as she sees it as a business investment and, because she has put the time and work into it, she is reaping the rewards. In fact, most of her business comes through WMB and since September 2021 she has booked 40 holidays for people she has met through the network! This is pretty amazing considering the travel industry is still recovering post covid! Having a consistent pipeline and flow of business doesn't happen by accident. It's taken years to build up but Maria understands the importance of consistency.
Networking is all about building relationships and for relationships to develop and thrive, there has to be trust. This is exactly why just going to the odd meeting here and there or taking a scattergun approach simply doesn’t work. The fact is, it’s not even just about attending the meetings regularly, although of course that’s important, it’s all the things you do in between meetings.
* Are you connecting with the people you meet on LinkedIn and keeping the conversation going there?
* Are you arranging 121s so you can get to know fellow members and guests even better and find out more about how you can support them and their business?
* Are you sharing fellow members’ content across your social media channels to help them get in front of as many audiences as possible?
* Are you referring people when a family or friend expresses that they need help with something?
These are all ways you can build and nurture these relationships and it’s so important that you go into networking meetings fully prepared to help other people grow their businesses as much as you would like their help in growing yours!
It all goes back to the “know, like and trust” theory. Once you have attended your first meeting, people can say they know of you but this is not enough for them to necessarily want to work with you (unless of course your business is so completely unique that they are unlikely to ever meet anyone offering what you do ever again – in reality, this isn’t the case for most of us?). After attending a few meetings, people will probably start to feel like they know you enough to like you. Depending on what you offer, this is when you may start to see business trickling in but it probably won’t be quite enough. However, if you put the time in to grow the relationships from simply liking to trusting, this is when the work will be more likely to flow.
So, next time you find yourself thinking that networking isn’t working for you, have an honest think about how much work you have actually put in to it. Perhaps, like Maria, you are also getting back what you have put in as it works both ways!
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