Even the most seasoned business owners who know networking is a great way to build business quickly, sometimes just don’t go … or go to a few meetings and then stop! Their excuses? Lack of time, too costly, not effective, not relevant … to name just a few.
So you can imagine if you don’t like networking the reasons you give yourself for not going can be endless!
As someone who believes that EVERY business can benefit from networking here is my response to the 3 main reasons people use to explain why they don’t make networking a priority and how you can consistently make the best use of your time.
Not effective or relevant – choose where you network well and it will be effective and relevant!
Know why you are networking and choose groups and types of network accordingly. If you are looking for local suppliers you’ll want to go to a different event than when looking for people with a specific job role.
You don’t want to attend every networking event but you do want to select one or two groups and attend consistently; let the others in the group get to know you and if they like you they may trust you enough to refer you to their contacts. No one is going to refer you because you were once at the same lunch event as them.
No time – If someone rang and said they were interested in what you do would you arrange a meeting or phone call? Without qualification it could be a waste of time … and the same is true of networking opportunities.
Qualify the event or group and you can find yourself in the company of key contacts or at least people who are able to refer you to them (always be open to who the people you meet may know). If you just randomly attend networking events without planning or qualification then you may well be wasting your time.
Too costly – Use the time well and a £10-£50 outlay can be much cheaper than other forms of marketing but you need to check and monitor over a period of months what you are spending and the benefits to the business.
Like any form of marketing follow a strategy of Plan, Execute, Monitor and Review . If you randomly attend with no plan or follow up process and then wonder why opportunities don’t come your way then you probably are wasting your money.
To network effectively … you need a plan, deliver to the plan, monitor what happens and then adapt and review.
So if you are looking for new business from your networking what should you do? Find a few network groups or events that you can attend regularly where you will meet potential clients or people who work with your potential clients and attend regularly. Then get to know the people there and monitor who you meet, who you have 1-1 meetings with and what transpires from those meetings!
You may well find that consistent networking works very well for you!