Surprisingly, most business people don’t network. Not enough time, don’t know how, don’t perceive the need, not motivated, don’t see any value in it.
Of those that do, many business people don’t know how to network successfully. They don’t follow any kind of process, and most don’t actually know why they network.
This last point is important because I’m not talking about getting leads, trying to get business or socializing. I’m talking about the fact that the majority of business people don’t have anything that remotely looks like a networking goal.
Without a goal, what are you hoping to achieve through your networking?
Over the years many people have asked me, “Why are you so successful at networking?”
The answer has two points. Firstly, my attitude to networking, secondly, my goals in networking (by the way, these are my opinions and are based on many years of experience both good and bad).
Let us start with an attitude towards networking.
Networking, is not an endgame… it is a beginning game.
Going to a networking function is NOT about pitching my product or service to as many people as possible, collecting as many business cards as I can or making myself look good, by putting down my business competition.
You might say, of course not, this would be ridiculous. However, I see this happen time and time again at networking functions, and if you don’t believe me, take some time and have a look and listen at your next networking event… you will not only be surprised, you’ll be mortified.
Networking functions have two real purposes. Firstly, it is your opportunity to tell your story, to get known, be seen and heard by telling your specific, structured elevator speech to as many people who are interested (note the last three words). Secondly, to make a connection, nothing more, just to make a connection. Everything else follows outside the networking function.
Now, what is this GOAL thing about?
Over the years I have asked thousands of people, one question… ” What is your networking goal?”
Over 96% (my statistics, from my own research) of business people not only don’t have a goal, they don’t know what I’m talking about.
“A networking goal… What for?… Why?”
Now before I go any further, please understand, these are my goals that I determined for myself a few years ago (yes, I WAS one of those who didn’t have a goal either), which have worked exceptionally well for me.
YOU need to determine YOUR needs and wants and create YOUR own goals that are going to suit YOU and YOUR business requirements.
I have two goals whenever and wherever I go to a networking function:
1. To meet three business people, WHO I DO NOT KNOW, whom I can help in their business through either my connections or my skills. (I am NOT there to catch up with friends, although I do say hello, or collect business cards. I will often talk to several different people before I achieve my goal of three connections. I don’t hand out cards unless asked, you do need to be polite, and I don’t ask for cards unless they are from my chosen three. I move from individual or group with purpose and continue until I have achieved my goal).
2. My second goal is to identify two businesses which could become potential strategic alliances or referral partners. (These are businesses, where we have mutual synergies. These can even be businesses that belong to friends. These need to be businesses, where we can work together and assist each other to mutual benefit, success and profitability. I have often found that those businesses to not generally come from the people I had connected with earlier. Although on a couple of very rare occasions, they have been the same person and business).
Your goals need to be clearly defined and simple, but most importantly, like all things that create massive success, they need to be applied consistently.
Happy networking all!