Think about that, could the way you are networking be all wrong? Let me write from my experience first then I will share the opinions of others – you know – those in the know.
If I were writing a book I would have one page devoted to “The Time I Wasted At IHOP”. Not a chapter because there was never enough good networking there to have an entire chapter. Yet, I went, every Friday morning and it was a waste of time. I know that now. I was starting a new business and I thought the best way to get business was to attend The Breakfast Club and network.
I tried different groups local to where I live and found that sadly these groups were started by people with great intentions about networking – only one problem, they did not know how to run a networking group.
Women have a tendency to join a networking group to make friends, not contacts. Madeleine Albright was quoted as saying when asked why women were not in powerful positions that that “(it’s) because they make friends, they don’t network. Men network and they don’t make friends.”
I already admitted I was in the wrong groups – many wrong groups – and many networking groups are a waste of time. I won’t apologize for being blunt. When you attend a networking group it is imperative that there be a person in that room that is smarter than you or can give you resources to solve a problem. Or how about this idea – someone who could fund a project you need funding for – wouldn’t that be golden?
I asked one of my marketing partners from http://thecrazymarketingladiesshow.com, Lynn Van Meter to share her thoughts on networking. Lynn has a graduate degree in business.
Lynn made a list:
Why do you network? Have you ever asked yourself that? Maybe you are going for all the wrong reasons.
Lynn’s 10 tips on effective networking
1. Don’t sit by someone you know
2. If you know someone is there who you want to meet, get an introduction
3. Ask them how you can help, it’s not all about you
4. Get their business cards
5. You are not going to do business with everyone you know, but who you know is key
6. Connect online with those you met in person and vica versa
7. Volunteer – it’s a great way to get clients 😉
8. Don’t sell – educated
9. Don’t be smarmy
10. Communities are small – keep your negativity to yourself
Lynn Van Meter, MBA
CEO (chief of exceptional outcomes)
Fiddlehead Marketing Advertising Public Relations
OK these are good tips – make that great tips BUT I want to add one more. If you do not get business or a referral by your 7th meeting (at the most) get out. You aren’t going to, you are in the wrong group.
I do have a happy ending. I actually realized that in order for my business to grow I needed to expand my boundaries. I was living in a smaller area and even though there wasn’t anyone in my first groups doing what I do, I was also dealing with people who did not see the importance of what I do.
Then I attended an event that was filled to the brim with a variety of networking groups. I talked to people there whose opinions I valued. 3 of them recommended a club – a social activity club which lead to a great Chamber of Commerce. I already belonged to a large woman’s networking group and I expanded my attendance at their events. Then I joined one more large networking group of business owners and stick a fork in me because I am done.
I also attend several large conferences each year and I know no strangers so I have connected with great thought leaders in social media, marketing, PR, podcasting and more.
My only disappointment personally is that I feel I have over-joined.
My advice to you is that when you are paying to join anything that has a monthly or annual cost, do your homework. Ask questions. Vet the group. Someone in a group asked me why I attend out of state conferences when (as they put it) the local group provides the same educational/connection/learning experiences. I did not answer because my answer would have been “No it doesn’t.” However this group meets the needs of others, so that’s all good, it just doesn’t meet mine.
Just be careful and join wisely. Look for that smarter person, be a good listener and send a “nice meeting you” note or email. You will get business when you join the right group.