Yes, I believe that networking works.
Yes, I can give you examples of how networking helped boost my career and my business.
No, networking is not a quick fix.
Yes, networking can be frustrating – even when you are doing the right things. It’s more frustrating when you are doing the wrong things, and even more frustrating when you are not sure if you are doing the right things.
What are the most common mistakes in networking?
The myth is in thinking that networking is an event.
The reality is that networking is a process.
Perhaps you have attended a networking event and witnessed “Mr. Power Networker” in action. He runs around the room distributing his business card like a cheap flyer. He shakes as many hands as he can grab, while spewing his 30-second commercial like manure. Then he quickly pounces on the next victim.
This misguided networker is not networking – he is sweatworking. He is sweating as he works the room. He believes that he is doing good – because he believes in the mantra – “no pain, no gain”. He knows this is painful and sweaty work – he just doesn’t realize how much pain he might be inflicting on others. After the event he sweats by the phone and wonders why nobody calls.
Networking is only one part of your marketing. Your networking must fit with all of your other marketing activities and there must be synergy among the different marketing activities. Don’t try to adopt a networking persona that is incongruent with your other marketing activities. Your message must be consistent.
Networking is a strategic process. To be more successful at networking you must formulate and follow a plan. Any good strategic plan includes goal definition, systematic processes, resource allocation and skill development. Remember to measure results along with inputs and make necessary course corrections.
A good network can give you a strategic advantage over your competition. Yes, networking takes time and patience. Any new process or skill set is slow at first. Once you reach that sweet spot on the learning curve your results take off.
Yes, you will still attend some networking events. But you will be more strategic in choosing which to attend and you will make better use of your time. Consider each networking event that you attend a personal marketing event just for you. Prepare for that event. Set goals for each event. Draw a simple plan for the event. Rehearse your lines. After the event review your performance, measure results and learn from what actually happened. Follow up with your contacts. Then start preparing for your next networking event.
When you follow a good networking system you will be better rewarded for your efforts. The only sweating you will do is sweating over the details. Yes, it is important to sweat the small stuff because it is the small stuff that will give you the edge from your networking process. You will net more and sweat less.